Approximately 48 hours after the tragedy in Charlottesville, Virginia, President Donald Trump finally acknowledged the specific groups responsible for the violence, although his words were impossible to take seriously given how they appeared to be all but dragged out of him.
The context from which they were given makes his stance additionally questionable, as Trump has surrounded himself with men who would most likely be marching in the streets alongside white supremacists if they didn't have positions in the White House, and the president's ear.
In his initial statement on Sunday, in which Trump refused to specifically call out white supremacists by name, the president said his administration would attempt to “study” the problem in Charlottesville in order to fight it.
However, critics say if Trump is truly willing to eradicate the menace of white nationalism and white supremacist views, he should start with his own administration.
Trump’s White House is infested with notorious white supremacists and ethno-nationalists, most prominently Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, Chief Policy Adviser Stephen Miller, and the deputy assistant to the president, Sebastian Gorka. These three men have long peddled racist worldviews, and Trump's decision to give them a platform has aided in the spread of racism.
Gorka has attempted to distance himself from neo-Nazi groups when faced with criticism, but running from a history as devotedly bigoted as his is futile. One need only look at his preferred signature Sebastian L. v. Gorka to uncover his ties to the far-right Hungarian group the Vitézi Rend, once allies to the Nazis and foundationally anti-Semitic.
While infamous alt-right leader Richard Spencer told The Daily Beast that he does not believe Miller is a white nationalist per se, the Trump aide was the architect behind the Muslim travel ban, and his xenophobic views could not be more obvious than in that piece of legislation.
However, perhaps the most notorious member of Trump's cabinet is Bannon, who has fashioned a career from hate and bigotry and has long been rumored to be a key motivator behind some of the president's most questionable rhetoric.
Bannon, the former executive chair of white nationalism mouthpiece Breitbart, is a known climate change denier and anti-Semite who was also charged with domestic violence. The Southern Poverty Law Center stated last November that Bannon “was the main driver behind Breitbart becoming a white ethno-nationalist propaganda mill.”
Stephen Bannon was the main driver behind Breitbart becoming a white ethno-nationalist propaganda mill https://t.co/IyJ6ET2vaS— SPLC (@splcenter) November 13, 2016
Not too long ago, Bannon even called for the formation of a “Christian militia” in order to wage a “holy war” with Islam. Naturally, his appointment as a POTUS adviser prompted widespread outrage, and recent events have put Bannon and his ilk in the spotlight once again.
According to the New York Times, CEO of the conservative News Corporation Rupert Murdoch has repeatedly urged Trump to fire Bannon in the past and renewed his pleas at a recent dinner in which Senior Advisor Jared Kushner was also present. Kushner is not a fan of Bannon.
Following the white supremacy-fueled rally in Charlottesville, calls for #FireBannon are trending on Twitter, the crux of these tweets being if Trump really intends to address the problem of white nationalism, he should start with firing his chief strategist.
White Supremacy has no place in America. Let's start with the White House. #FireBannon— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) August 13, 2017
In addition to Bannon, the leaders of the black, Hispanic, Asian and progressive caucus groups in the House of Representatives have written a letter to Trump asking him to remove Gorka and Miller from their posts in the White House. It even looks like a reworking of his staff, or at least firing Bannon, is something Trump is considering because, according to CNN, “White House chief of staff John Kelly has soured on Bannon.”
“Bannon is seen as pursuing his own agenda, which does not mesh with the power structure Kelly is putting in place,” an anonymous White House source told reporters.
Moreover, Trump believes Bannon is behind the leaks about his administration, as per Axios, which cited White House insiders as their source.
Nevertheless, removing Bannon, Miller, and Gorka from power won't eliminate the racism in the Trump White House. It is the president himself who has provided white supremacist ideals an invigorated agenda, and as Slate pointed out, Trump has proven himself a man with deeply questionable views for years. His campaign for the presidency was riddled with off-the-cuff racist remarks, and long before his inauguration, he originated the birther movement, which he later attempted to blame on political rival Hillary Clinton.
In the aftermath of Charlottesville, Trump posted several concerning tweets and informed "Fox & Friends" that he was "seriously considering" pardoning Joe Arpaio, the Arizona sheriff found in contempt of court for disregarding a judge's order to cease the practice of racial profiling.
Firing Bannon, Miller, and Gorka removes three racists from the White House, but that's not all of them.