If you've followed my blog, then you know that the Atlantic and the New York Times implied that presidential advisor Steve Bannon is a Nazi -- on the basis of one misrepresented citation (see here). So much for journalistic integrity. Sadly, the baseless attempts to connect Bannon to Nazis are not new (former DNC chair Howard Dean called Bannon a Nazi in the lead-up to the election, see here), and have not abated. Since the election, the intensification of Nazi allegations has underscored the regressive left's low journalistic standards for what constitutes "evidence." Consider the curious case of Bannon's alleged admiration of Vichy collaborator Charles Maurras.
Slate's Ben Mathis-Lilley, in his newest gem, "Another Day, Another Report About Steve Bannon's Affection for Nazism," which is an update to the imaginative, "The President’s Top Adviser Is Literally a KKK-Level White Power Scumbag," pegs Bannon's "affection" for Nazism to two authors. The first is "white advocate" Jared Taylor. The other is Vichy collaborator Charles Maurras (for the Mathis-Lilley article, see here). This post will focus on the supposed Maurras-Bannon connection, and a future post will deal specifically with Taylor, as well as Jean Raspail's The Camp of the Saints references.
The Maurras-Bannon connection
Mathis-Lilley's list of "sources" consist of scavenged block quotations from Politico and Mother Jones, which review a short list of Maurras' fascist bona fides; Maurras believed that the Enlightenment was coming to and end, served time for attempting to assassinate Léon Blum in 1936, collaborated with the Vichy government's suppression of Gaullists during the war, and ultimately served a life sentence for being a Nazi. Bannon's "admiration" for Maurras, Mathis-Lilley assures us, closes the book on Bannon. He's a Nazi. But how does Mathis-Lilley "prove" Bannon's "admiration" for Maurras? Simple. Mathis-Lilley provides a block quote from Michael Crowley's Politico article -- "Bannon has also expressed admiration for the reactionary French philosopher Charles Maurras, according to French media reports confirmed by Politico."
As it turns out, Crowley's entire case for a Bannon-Maurras connection rests exclusively on the following statement: "Bannon has also expressed admiration for the reactionary French philosopher Charles Maurras, according to French media reports confirmed by Politico (see here)." Does this look familiar? Unfortunately, Crowley does not provide a single citation, link, or any other form of tangible evidence to support this statement, direct readers to the "French media reports," or explain how Politico "confirmed" said reports. Perhaps these things exist. Perhaps they do not. At least the Atlantic and the New York Times provided a bogus citation as cover for their fabrication. Politico hasn't even given us a misrepresented citation! For all we know, Crowley just made it up.
Perhaps Crowley's undocumented "French media reports" are Guy Sorman's France-Amerique article from February 16, 2017, entitled, "The French Source of Trumpism (see here)." Sorman's source for the claim that Bannon was "largely inspired by" Maurras? None other than an unnamed French diplomat. That's right, an anonymous source. According to the unnamed diplomat, "Bannon quoted one of Maurras’ famous maxims, which distinguishes the 'legal country' (the democratic republic and its elected officials) from the 'real country' (the people dear to Trump and Marine Le Pen)."
Voila! Bannon is a Nazi.
Crowley's Echo Chamber
Here's the kicker -- Crowley's Politico article is the first link (the "evidence") in a chain of mindless mimickers that are all peddling the "Bannon is a Nazi via admiration for Maurras" refrain. We've already mentioned Mathis-Lilley's piece in Slate. Let's round-up the other digital hucksters guilty of slinging Crowley's bull-pucky:
Pema Levy's, "Stephen Bannon Is a Fan of a French Philosopher...Who Was an Anti-Semite and a Nazi Supporter," in Mother Jones (see here).
Daniel J. Solomon's "Why Does Steve Bannon Admire A French Nazi Collaborator?," in Forward (see here).
Alt Wire's "Stephen Bannon's a fan of a radical philosopher sentenced to prison for his Nazi sympathies," via Mother Jones, via Politico -- (Do note the Twitter references to Bannon's "admiration" for Maurras at the end of the "article," here)
For a short bit on how Bannon's ideas "echo" Maurras' distinction between the "legal country" and the "real country," see the Truth Examiner's, "Stephen Bannon IDOLIZES A French Philosopher…Who Was an Anti-Semite and a Nazi Supporter, And There’s MORE!." (see here)
What, according to the regressive left, is Bannon's actual transgression?
It would appear that their angst stems from the perceived threat that Bannon poses to globalism and the EU, as well as Bannon's support for Brexit, Trump, strong national borders, Christianity, capitalism, and, here's the real rub -- concerns Bannon has repeatedly expressed about mass Muslim immigration to the U.S. Ironically, the last point -- that Bannon sees an immediate security threat in radical Islamic terrorist groups seeking to infiltrate the U.S. through previously lax immigration, border enforcement, and refugee resettlement policies -- is most often used as more "evidence" that Bannon is Goebbels, Trump is Hitler, and Muslims are the European Jews of the 1930s. The regressive left's extremist lens has distorted their perception. They see Nazis everywhere. Here's a bit of cowboy advice -- stop torturing the evidence! Otherwise, it'll confess to anything you want it to.
Unfortunately, the continual allegations of the Trump administration's Nazi and fascist affinities have found fertile ground among low-information zealots, and have facilitated a dangerous slide toward the normalization of violence as a means of "resistance" to the POTUS and his supporters (for the recent "Ides of Trump" writing campaign to mark the assassination of Julius Caesar, see here, or for the recent billboard in Phoenix that depicts Trump as a Nazi, see here). Consider the sustained acts of violence against Trump supporters (see here), the rash of violent attacks on campus conservatives (for my blog post on violence against conservative speakers on campus, see here), assaults on high-profile Trump supporters (for the recent attack on the elderly conservative radio show host and vocal Trump-supporter, Michael Savage, see here), and even calls for violence against the POTUS by pop stars (for Madonna's musing about "blowing up the White House," see here, and more recently Snoop Dogg's new video that depicts the rapper shooting the POTUS, see here, and for despicable threats against the FLOTUS, see here).
I've linked to the SPJ's code of ethics, here. It's high time journalists held their own accountable. Otherwise, the amazing lack of integrity shown above, and in my previous blog, will come to define the fourth estate in the public imagination as a group of dishonest, and radically partisan, hucksters.
- The Cowboy Historian