Trump’s ties to Bannon no worse than Obama ties to La Raza
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Progressive activists still angry with the democratic process not going this election have been on the attack, this week arranging cross-country protests against the recent appointment of Steve Bannon as White House Chief Strategist. The indignation stems from Bannon having previously presided over “white ethno-nationalist propaganda mill”, Breitbart News. If I may contort Voltaire, my message to these activists is, while I’ll defend to the death your right to protest, I wholly disapprove of your inconsistency. 

 When President Obama entered the White House nearly eight years ago, he appointed as top advisors, Cecilia Munoz and Felicia Escobar, both of whom had long been senior officials at the infamous National Council for La Raza. 

La Raza, or “the Race” in English, is an organization that reportedly encourages illegal aliens and non-citizens to vote, and whose founder, current University of Texas professor, Jose Angel Gutierrez, once advocated for mass violence against American whites. Gutierrez once stated, “We have got to eliminate the Gringo, and what I mean by that is that if the worst come to the worst, we have got to kill him.” 

If the Southern Poverty Law Center, the group behind the anti-Bannon ‘white nationalist’ label that’s now gone viral among major media outlets, had any semblance of consistency, Ms. Munoz and Ms. Escobar’s former employer would not only be labelled an ethno-nationalist organization but a “hate group” as well.

Munoz, a two-decades long vice president and registered lobbyist at La Raza was chosen as a top White House advisor, despite the President’s vow to end lobbyist conflicts-of-interest. His declaration on this issue had been clear: “No political appointees in an Obama-Biden administration will be permitted to work on regulations or contracts directly and substantially related to their prior employer for two years.” Munoz’s conflict appeared to be evident considering that La Raza was receiving (and continues to receive) millions of tax-payer dollars from the federal government (not to mention private foundations and corporations). To get around his own regulation, Obama invoked a “public-interest” exemption to waive in Ms. Munoz on account of her “knowledge and expertise.” But neither this, nor the organization’s clear ethno-centric mandate, received a moment’s attention from those outlets now calling from Bannon’s removal. 

Munoz has been putting that “knowledge” to work ever since. One of Munoz’s first tasks at the White House was to spearhead the so-called Task Force for New Americans, a mass naturalization program, which some have alleged was part of a broader strategy to register new immigrants, nearly half of whom are Hispanic, to vote, and do so ostensibly for Democrats. 

Munoz’s Task Force was put to work this past general election. Among other things, it pushed the Homeland Security department, an agency apparently too cash-strapped to deport illegal aliens, to ramp up the amount of fee waivers it provides to naturalization-applicants.

 Another top La Raza figure long-embedded in the Obama White House is Felicia Escobar. According to the immigration law press, along with Munoz, Escobar was brought in to “work[] overtime and breathe life into the president’s immigration actions” (aka executive amnesty). Both former La Raza officials were dominant fixtures within DHS’s key immigration policy circles and together they attended meetings with Secretary Jeh Johnson and key immigration staff almost twenty times in the first half of Obama’s second term.

Among certain types in this country, some ethno-nationalisms are apparently more equal than others. These types don’t mind nationalism as long as it’s enjoyed by the right racial group. Such selective standards based on race should rightly appear to most as the very definition of racism; the charge, of course, being made against Bannon himself.

Based on the “evidence” offered by the SPLC, I don’t think Bannon is an ethno-nationalist. Only an American one. And putting America first never deserves scorn. Only celebration.  

Smith is an attorney living in Washington, D.C.


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