Breitbart’s Steve Bannon, four weeks removed from his role as chief strategist in Donald Trump’s White House, covered quite a bit of ground on CBS’s “60 Minutes” last night. Bannon apparently sees himself in some kind of protracted ideological battle with the congressional Republican leadership; he has “contempt” for George W. Bush and his team; and he considers the president’s decision to fire then-FBI Director James Comey as possibly the biggest mistake “in modern political history.”
And while all of this was interesting, it wasn’t the part of the interview that stuck with me once the show aired. Rather, it was this exchange between Bannon and Charlie Rose that I found myself mulling over afterwards.
ROSE: Everybody listening to you talks about one of the great issues in American life today, which is the plight of the middle class. But they also believe that there is – on your part and the president’s part – not enough appreciation for some of the values also that made America great. And you don’t appreciate that. You don’t appreciate the diversity, you don’t appreciate the respect for civil rights…
BANNON: I was raised in a desegregated neighborhood. It– it– the north side of Richmond is predominantly black, OK? I went to – I went to an integrated school, a Catholic school. I served in the military. I don’t need to be – I don’t need to be lectured by a bunch of – by a bunch of limousine liberals, OK, from the Upper East Side of New York and from the Hamptons, OK, about any of this. My lived experience is that.
We’re all familiar with the old cliché: a person accused of racism will say, “Some of my best friends are (fill in the blank with the relevant minority group).” But that’s not quite where Bannon went in the interview.
Instead, his answer was slightly worse. Bannon could’ve made the case that he respects racial and ethnic diversity, and explained why it’s a core element of American strength, but his defensiveness took him in a different direction. In Bannon’s case, “Some of my best friends are minorities” has effectively been replaced with, “Some of the people I’ve been exposed to are minorities.”
In the same interview, which was filmed the day after the Trump administration rescinded the DACA program, Bannon seemed disappointed that the president didn’t go even further. In fact, the former White House aide told “60 Minutes” he wants to see Dreamers “self deport.” He added, “There’s no path to citizenship, no path to a green card and no amnesty. Amnesty is non-negotiable.”
ROSE: America was, in the eyes of so many people, and it’s what people respect America for, it is people have been able to come here, find a place, contribute to the economy. That’s what immigration has been in America. And you seem to want to turn it around and stop it.
BANNON: You couldn’t be more dead wrong. America was built on her citizens.
When Rose added that everyone’s family in the United States except Native Americans immigrated from somewhere, Bannon responded, “This is the thing of the leftists. Charlie, that’s beneath you. America’s built on our on our citizens…. Economic nationalism is what this country was built on.”
If you’re wondering who put these ideas in Donald Trump’s head, look no further.