It's no secret that Steve Bannon has a deep, often irrational fear of Islam and those who subscribe to it. But what's not clear is why he lied about how he got the idea that Muslims were a threat to America.
At a delicate time when political unrest is leading to serious and even deadly incidents, President Donald Trump's White House chief strategist doesn't seem to be helping restore the public's now-frail trust in the current administration. And according to The Intercept, that's because he seems unable to be honest about the true reason why he's so fearful of Muslim-majority nations.
While talking to journalist Joshua Green, the author of “Devil's Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency,” Bannon said he first noticed that Islam represented a “threat” when he served on a Navy destroyer in the Arabian Sea.
According to the strategist, he was able to tell that the threat “was just going to be huge” even then, as he served as a junior officer.
“We’d pull into a place like Karachi, Pakistan — this is 1979, and I’ll never forget it — the British guys came on board, because they still ran the port," he said. "The city had 10 million people at the time. We’d get out there, and 8 million of them had to be below the age of fifteen. It was an eye-opener. We’d been other places like the Philippines where there was mass poverty. But it was nothing like the Middle East. It was just a complete eye-opener. It was the other end of the earth.”
But The Intercept discovered that when the story was actually researched in depth, it appeared that Bannon had the details all wrong.
The publication talked to at least six sailors who served with Bannon while he occupied the destroyers in 1979, and the information they shared with reporters matched the ship deck's logs.
What The Intercept found is that Karachi, the commercial hub of Pakistan, did not have that large of a population in 1979. As a matter of fact, it was closer to 5 million at the time.
But what's more concerning is that according to Bannon's colleagues, the USS Paul F. Foster ship on which he served never visited Karachi with Trump's chief strategist on board. Instead, the ship visited several other ports at Hawaii, Guam, the Philippines, Christmas Island, Hong Kong, and Singapore.
So was Bannon lying?
Unless he developed a false memory that led him to believe he was in Pakistan between 1979 and 1980, the answer is probably yes.
Still, it's important to note that, as Splinter so aptly pointed out, the fact Bannon's ideologies may be rooted in fiction “is important considering he now wields unwavering power in the White House.”
So, is the president relying on a team of aides, and in this case, strategists, who are simply delusional? And if so, could this be putting the country in danger, especially when it comes to foreign policy? If Bannon's fabricated story is to be taken into account, then the answer to both questions is probably yes.
Banner and thumbnail image credit: Reuters/Carlos Barria