Stephen Bannon, chief strategist and senior counselor to Republican President-elect Donald Trump, reportedly once said that suppressing the Black vote by limiting voting rights to property owners would not be “such a bad thing.”
During a discussion with Julia Jones, a colleague who co-wrote a documentary on Ronald Reagan with him, Bannon suggested restricting the vote to people who own property, reported the New York Times on Sunday. When Jones pointed out that such a policy would block many Black voters (who, historically, have faced unequal access to homeownership) from the polls, Bannon reportedly responded, “Maybe that’s not such a bad thing.”
Jones also told the Times that Bannon “occasionally talked about the genetic superiority of some people.”
Trump’s decision to appoint Bannon, chairman of the white nationalist website Breitbart News, to an official position within his administration was widely criticized by both Democrats and civil rights organizations. Two weeks ago, 169 House Democrats signed a letter urging Trump to rescind the appointment given Bannon’s ties to white nationalism.
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Under Bannon’s leadership, Breitbart has published misogynistic, racist, anti-Semitic, xenophobic, and outright false articles under the guise of news. These articles have included attacks on reproductive health care, such as a December 2015 article headlined “Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive and Crazy” and an August 2015 piece comparing Planned Parenthood to the Holocaust.
“It is a sad day when a man who presided over the premier website of the Alt Right, a loose-knit group of white nationalists and unabashed anti-Semites and racists—is slated to be a senior staff member in the ‘people’s house,'” Jonathan A. Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, said in a statement after Trump announced the appointment.
Bannon boasted in July that his website was “the platform for the alt-right,” a racist and anti-Semitic movement.
“Stephen Bannon, a man who led a media empire into becoming what a former Breitbart editor called a ‘a cesspool for white supremacist mememakers,’ simply has no business in the White House,” Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, said in a statement after Bannon’s appointment. “In his victory speech, Trump pledged to be the president for ‘all Americans’ and to ‘bind the wounds of division’ in our country. Appointing someone like Bannon, who will have the president-elect’s ear every single day, makes a mockery of that pledge.”
Just prior to the presidential election, Trump’s campaign came under fire after an unnamed senior official told Bloomberg Businessweek that it was engaging in “major voter suppression operations” aimed at depressing the votes of key Democratic voting blocs, including Black voters.
Trump spent the final weeks of his presidential campaign pushing the false claim that the election had been “rigged” against him, despite having no evidence to support it. After news broke that Wisconsin would recount votes, Trump falsely claimed in a tweet on Sunday that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton had won the popular vote because “millions of people” had illegally voted for her. There is no proof to back up his allegation.