February 2, 2017


Stephen Bannon's apparent references to anti-immigrant Know-Nothing Party don't seem so coincidental anymore (Frances Stead Sellers and Aaron Blake, Feb. 2nd, 2017, Washington Post)

When Stephen K. Bannon launched his Sirius XM radio show Breitbart News Daily in 2015, he said it was designed to appeal to the people he referred to as "those 'low-information' citizens who are mocked and ridiculed by their 'betters' -- the clueless elites."

Time and again, once he took to the air, the former Goldman Sachs banker who is now President Trump's White House chief strategist made a point of aligning himself with the working people whom the establishment viewed as intellectually inferior.

"You got to remember: We're Breitbart," Bannon told Trump after the Republican candidate took a more liberal stance on high-skilled immigration than he did.

"We're the know-nothing vulgarians," Bannon said. "We've always got to be to the right of you on this."

Bannon used similar language in an early 2016 interview with Stephen Miller, the political operative who worked for Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions and is now working alongside Bannon in Trump's White House. Bannon praised "trade deals that bring our jobs and sovereignty back to the United States," describing such "economic nationalism" as "policy that works for the vulgarians, that works for the hobbits, that works for know-nothings, that works for the peasants with the pitchforks."

Whether intentionally or not, Bannon, who made frequent allusions to U.S. history on the show, was repeatedly evoking the fiercely anti-immigrant Know-Nothing or American Party of the mid-19th century -- a group of Protestant men who feared the country was being overrun by Catholic immigrants and helped make religious differences into a political issue.

Nativism always requires that the current wave of immigrants be totally different than the last one.  Unfortunately for them, the chief difference is how much more quickly we assimilate them in the Information Age.

Posted by at February 2, 2017 8:22 AM