Head of Black Democrats laments Bannon’s ‘racist’ legacy

Head of Black Democrats laments Bannon’s ‘racist’ legacy
© Greg Nash

Stephen Bannon may be gone, but the head of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) charged Friday that his influence remains in a host of “racist” policies still prevailing under the Trump administration.

Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) said positions championed by the administration –– from tougher voting restrictions and immigration enforcement to prison reforms and a crackdown on drugs –– all bear Bannon’s mark, and discriminate against minorities.

"Firing Steve Bannon is not enough because the issue of him working in the White House has never only been about him,” Richmond said in a statement. “It's also been about the racist and discriminatory policies he's helped draft and implement which hurt African Americans and other communities or color.”

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David Letterman-style, Richmond blasted out a “top-ten list” of administration policies he deems “racist and discriminatory.”

They include Trump’s push to ban travelers from several largely Muslim countries; the threat to sue universities with affirmative action policies deemed to disadvantage white students; a return to the hardline enforcement of drug laws; and the establishment of a commission to investigate cases of voter fraud.

“So yes, Bannon needs to go –– as do other white supremacists working in this administration –– but the policies need to go too,” Richmond said.

There’s been no love lost between the Democrats and Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist whose exit on Friday came after months of clashes with other senior White House advisors.

Bannon was previously the head of Breitbart News, a Trump-friendly conservative site that Bannon himself described as lending a voice to the “alt-right” movement. And his unapologetic nationalism, particularly on immigration issues, both endeared him to hardline conservatives and made him a radioactive figure in the eyes of liberals.

Last weekend’s deadly violence at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., had brightened the spotlight on Bannon as well as the influence of like-minded advisors in the White House, leading scores of Democrats to endorse a resolution calling for his ouster.

Amid the outcry, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) amplified previous charges that Bannon is a “white supremacist.”

While embracing the nationalist label, Bannon has rejected any suggestions of racism. And his allies on and off of Capitol Hill rushed quickly to his defense following his departure.

"Steve Bannon, especially what we've seen since last year's campaign, is getting a really bad rap, characterizing him as a racist," Rep. Lee Zeldin, a Jewish New York Republican, told Fox News on Friday.

"That's just not accurate from the person that I have had an opportunity to spend some time with," Zeldin said.

Richmond’s criticisms echo the sentiments expressed Friday by a long list of Democrats, who hailed Bannon’s ouster while warning it does nothing to ensure that Trump will alter his own nationalist approach to governing –– a topic that’s consumed the political discussion since the president defended the cause of the Charlottesville marchers on several occasions over the last week.

“I am pleased that he is no longer serving in the White House, he should have never been appointed,” Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), another prominent Black Caucus member, said Friday of Bannon.

“However, his removal will not undo the damage that has already been done and it will not reconcile the hate-filled agenda of the Trump administration," Conyers said.