Before convening with international leaders in Germany for the G20 summit, President Donald Trump gave an impassioned speech in Poland denouncing the decline of Western civilization at the hands of "radical Islamic terrorism."
Despite Trump's own nationalist worldview, this speech was the brainchild of Senior Adviser Stephen Miller and White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon. A closer look at this speech and other White House policies reveal that while Trump may be at the head of the ship, Bannon and Miller are the ones steering.
Thanks to this trio, the far right has finally been given a mouthpiece on one of the most powerful pulpits in the world.
While Trump is the bullhorn, Bannon and Miller are the ideologues providing structure to the president's impulses. Both Bannon and Miller are motivated by white nationalist rhetoric and push an "America first" agenda that is given voice through Trump's own belief in American exceptionalism.
Miller's "enemies at the gate" mentality perfectly compliments Bannon's idea that the United States is reaching a violent breaking point that will ultimately birth a conservative nation. Together they claim Muslim fundamentalism is America's greatest threat while dismissing the hatred boiling over in communities across the nation. It's a hatred they are fueling.
While Bannon's apocalyptic worldview was already revealing itself to mainstream society through Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, the public was arguably not given an opportunity to see what that truly meant until Trump's inaugural address. Ripe with fascist mythos, the speech described a nation on the brink of attack whose citizens must fight for the essential core of their identity. Its language was panic-inducing, presenting an Islamic scapegoat while posturing the new administration as the only thing standing between America and oblivion.
"This American carnage stops right here and it stops right now," Trump crowed.
It's not surprising that the speech was co-authored by Bannon and Miller.
This white nationalist vision does not remain confined to presidential speeches, however. With Trump's enabling, it has also made its way into policy. Miller played a key role in drafting the Muslim travel ban, a piece of legislation misguided by ignorance and racism, and Bannon was no doubt influential to its crafting.
The ban was shaped by Miller's fear of foreigners and his subscription to ethno-nationalism, a belief that Europe and America are white continents and must preserve the purity of their Judeo-Christian heritage against outsiders. Perhaps few put it more succinctly than Bannon himself, who once said that an abstract war against the Islamic faith could have a "cleansing effect." These used to be distasteful fringe views, but now Miller and Bannon each have their own office in the White House.
It's hard to say if Trump embraces Bannon and Miller's beliefs to their fullest extent, but the formation of his administration shows that he is, at the very least, willing to entertain them. In many ways, the three men's world views fit comfortably together. Trump's desire to "Make America Great Again" hinges on American isolationism, just a racist hop away from his chief strategist and advisor's dreams of an ideologically and racially pure nation.
However, it is important to note that wherein lies the power lies the source of conflict and change. Bannon and Miller wouldn't have such a strong voice without Trump, and white nationalism wouldn't be as fierce as it is currently in the U.S. if it wasn't coming from the president of the United States' mouth.