It’s time we rename the building at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. It’s undergoing some alarming renovations under President-elect Donald Trump, so let’s call it what it is – the White Nationalist House.
Trump named Steve Bannon his senior policy advisor. Bannon doesn’t belong anywhere near the White House, much less in it. Bannon’s past clearly shows he’s a white nationalist – a prolific hater of blacks, Jews, women, gays and immigrants. At the very least, he profits from giving a platform – via his white nationalist website Breitbart News – to racists, bigots, sexists, misogynists, homophobes and xenophobes.
The timing of Bannon weaseling into the West Wing strikes a personal chord with me and eight families I’ve come to know over the past year and a half. On Nov. 7, the day before the presidential election, the trial of accused Charleston church shooter and self-proclaimed white nationalist Dylann Roof started in federal court. Roof is accused of killing nine worshippers in my hometown church. Among the victims of that 2015 hate crime was my sister Cynthia Graham Hurd.
To pretend that Bannon’s hate empire and Roof’s hate crime have nothing to do with each other dishonors the lives lost in Charleston and the grieving families left behind. The two fed off of each other and emboldened each other.
With a president endorsed by the KKK and with a white nationalist by his side, how many more Dylann Roofs will rise up? With a president whose hate is rampant, who encouraged violence at his rallies, who bragged he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and still get elected, who appointed a white nationalist to help set policy, is any group in our country safe?
Consider this excerpt from Roof’s 2,000-word manifesto: “I believe that even if we made up only 30 percent of the population we could take it back completely. But by no means should we wait any longer to take drastic action.”
And this: “We have no skinheads, no real KKK, no one doing anything but talking on the internet. Well someone has to have the bravery to take it to the real world, and I guess that has to be me.”
Soon after the Charleston shootings, the Breitbart website maintained “the confederate flag proclaims a glorious heritage.” This is the same site that publishes stories under the label “black crime.”
Remember when we thought that Republicans in Washington would serve as a check to Trump? Forget that. House Speaker Paul Ryan claimed to not know Bannon, despite the fact that Bannon has been with Trump since the summer and despite a useful tool known as Google.
Here’s what Bannon said in an interview with Mother Jones in August.
“Look, are there some people that are white nationalists that are attracted to some of the philosophies of the alt-right? Maybe. Are there some people that are anti-Semitic that are attracted? Maybe. Right? Maybe some people are attracted to the alt-right that are homophobes, right? But that’s just like, there are certain elements of the progressive left and the hard left that attract certain elements.”
I refuse to refer to Bannon and his ilk as “alt-right,” because that white washes what it really is. It’s a saccharine term for racism, sexism, neo-Nazism.
Before Charleston, we thought racism was an undercurrent in America. Now it’s front and center. It’s accepted and rewarded and promoted.
It’s a slap in the face to my family and the eight others who lost loved ones in Charleston.
Malcolm Graham is a Charleston native and former Charlotte City Council member and N.C. state senator who has lived in Charlotte for more than 30 years. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org