Lori Lowenthal Marcus gets it: The witch hunt against Stephen Bannon and the baseless hatred being directed at him is a scream of impotent rage by the election losers on the left
As I wrote in my Times column today, both the election of Donald Trump and the UK’s Brexit vote represent the first defeat for the left in decades of the culture wars as the people finally fight back against the attempt to undermine and destroy western society. Having lost these democratic elections, the left has resorted to its well-honed strategy of smears, character assassination and intellectual intimidation to destroy its opponents.
This is how it works. False allegations are made against Donald Trump and his new head of strategy Stephen Bannon, smearing them as antisemites, fascists and racists. Whether through laziness or ideological malice, these smears are recycled uncritically throughout both mainstream and social media.
This foments a hysterical hatred against the two men which takes on a life of its own. That same hatred is then channelled against anyone who tries to point out that these allegations are false and these men have been smeared. Those thus motivated by the need to uphold truth against lies and defend the victims of malevolent and libellous hatred are then smeared in turn as antisemites, racists and fascists, or at the very least as their fellow travellers.
So let’s look at the charges against Stephen Bannon.
• The charge that he is an antisemite
His ex-wife said during the course of a highly contentious divorce that he had made disparaging comments about Jews in connection with choosing a school for their daughter. Bannon has denied he made those comments. Any claim made by a spouse in the course of a divorce must be deemed unreliable. The charge therefore has no standing.
Joel Pollak, an orthodox Jew and Breitbart contributor, has written:
“I can say, without hesitation, that Steve is a friend of the Jewish people and a defender of Israel, as well as being a passionate American patriot and a great leader….Steve is outraged by antisemitism. If anything, he is overly sensitive about it, and often takes offense on Jews’ behalf.”
Next comes the charge is that Bannon’s Breitbart site is a platform for antisemitism, racism or Islamophobia and misogyny. Oh, and white supremacism.
• The charge of antisemitism.
Exhibit A: an article entitled “Bill Kristol: Republican Spoiler, Renegade Jew”.
That headline is said to be antisemitic.The author of the article, David Horowitz, has written however:
“In fact, neither Breitbart nor Bannon is responsible for that statement. A Jew is. I wrote the article, which was neither requested nor commissioned by Breitbart. And I wrote the headline: “Bill Kristol, Republican Spoiler, Renegade Jew.
“I wrote the article when Kristol set out to lead the Never Trump movement, after Trump had secured the Republican nomination. I would write it again in a heartbeat. I would write it the same way and with the same headline. Bill Kristol and his friends betrayed the Republican Party, betrayed the American people, and betrayed the Jews when he set out to undermine Trump and elect the criminal Hillary Clinton. Obama and Hillary are supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, the organization that launched the Arab drive to destroy Israel and push its Jews into the sea (that was their slogan).
“If Obama and Hillary had their way, Egypt’s leader al-Sisi would be overthrown, the Brotherhood would be back in power, and Israel would be facing a threat from the biggest military power in the Middle East and almost certainly at war with Islamic terrorists who openly call for the extermination of the Jews.
“I have known Steve Bannon for many years. This is a good man. He does not have an antisemitic bone in his body.”
Exhibit B: an article which said of journalist Anne Applebaum that “hell hath no fury like a Polish, Jewish, American elitist scorned.” That phrased is said to be antisemitic.
The article attacked Applebaum for what it claimed was her “disinformation offensive against the anti-globalist right”. Central to its argument was a description of Applebaum’s circumstances and political world-view as the wife of the former Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski. It said: “Sikorski desperately wanted to replace Baroness Catherine Ashton as EU foreign affairs spokesman. This bid died with the exposure of the Civic Platform corruption. This turn of events ended Applebaum’s dream of being Poland’s first Jewish-American first lady. And hell hath no fury like a Polish, Jewish, American elitist scorned”.
There was nothing gratuitous or innately offensive about this Jewish reference any more than the references to her being Polish or American. It was simply another biographical detail in a highly personal piece. The claim that this was “antisemitic” is absurd.
• The charge of misogyny.
Exhibit A: a tongue-in-cheek article suggesting that if women were upset by nasty stuff about women on the net, they should log off;
and Exhibit B: an article reporting on findings that there was no workplace hiring against women who instead tended to do badly in interviews.
Yup, that’s it. That’s supposed to be proof of Breitbart’s “misogyny”. Pathetic, or what?
• The charge of racism.
After the murder in 2015 of nine black worshippers in a Charleston church by a man who posed with a Confederate flag, an article attacking the left for cynically exploiting this tragedy to attack conservatism, tradition and the south.
The author said the left had rewritten history. “The epitome of everything they detest and fear is the Confederate Flag, so that is now the target of a hate campaign so fanatical and irrational as to seem barely sane”.
The insanity has gone one stage further; the left has extended this hate campaign to the website’s chief executive, smearing him as a racist for running this article merelyatcriticising the left for its hatred and lies.
• The charge of Islamophobia
Breitbart has run numerous pieces exposing Islamist aggression and sexual violence. For this it has been falsely accused of anti-Muslim prejudice by those who wish to censor facts which it is overwhelmingly in the public interest to report.
• The charge that it has promoted the “alt-right”.
This term is being used as a smear in itself. It makes no distinction between the legitimate populist movement for western cultural identity to which millions who voted for both Trump and Brexit subscribe, and neo-Nazis and white supremacists who have leeched onto that populist movement – whether to legitimise themselves or to make trouble for the populists through “guilt by association” isn’t clear.
An article about the “alt-right” on Breitbart itself noted that those who use these Nazi types to tarnish the alt-right movement should, to be consistent, use Islamist killers to tarnish all Muslims or Black Lives Matter to tarnish all black people. Of course they would think that preposterous, but they use this tactic against their political enemies. The authors went on:
“The politics of identity, when it comes from women, LGBT people, blacks and other non-white, non-straight, non-male demographics is seen as acceptable — even when it descends into outright hatred. Any discussion of white identity, or white interests, is seen as a heretical offence…Even for us – a gay man of Jewish descent and a mixed-ethnic half-Pakistani – the dangers of writing on this topic loom large. Though we do not identify with the alt-right, even writing an article about them is akin to prancing through a minefield.”
Not so much a minefield, more a shoulder-mounted missile battery for the left. Disgustingly, this uses the white supremacists who have leeched onto those legitimately aspiring to traditional western cultural expression to smear such people as bigots and worse. This is a cynical strategy for destroying not just them but the democratically expressed wishes of the general public. Thus the New York Times tells us:
“Democratic leaders in Washington appeared to coalesce around a strategy aimed at demonizing Mr Bannon as a racist and pressuring media outlets to describe him as a white supremacist”
while the spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said:
“It is easy to see why the KKK views Trump as their champion when Trump appoints one of the foremost peddlers of White Supremacist themes and rhetoric as his top aide.”
I hold no particular brief for Stephen Bannon. But I do know a Big Lie and a smear campaign when I see it. I have watched precisely such a campaign used with devastating success against Israel and the Jewish people these past several decades; I have watched as lies and distortions and fantasies which could be exposed as fraudulent after ten seconds’ research are circulated by the media until they develop the patina of an unchallengeable truth.
From all I have read, it seems the charges against Stephen Bannon and his website are grotesque; and the people who are making them, including sadly certain left-wing Jews with an ideological agenda or bitter Jewish Republicans who sided with their party’s establishment and lost, are beyond despicable.
Whether or not one supports Bannon’s political agenda, it is surely incumbent upon all decent people to protest against such calumny and uphold truth against lies. What we are seeing here is what JL Talmon called “cultural totalitarianism”; and we must fight it.