The current administration is not known for its moral high ground, but recent events have revealed President Donald Trump and some of his cabinet members as humanity's worst.
While hard to swallow in real time, the president and his advisers' alarming views on racism in the United States have long been an undercurrent of his rise to power, as revealed by journalist Joshua Green in his book "Devil's Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency."
According to Green, in August 2012 then-campaign chief executive officer Steve Bannon informed him that the Trump camp had made a decision to speak softly when race relations came up as a topic, particularly after Hillary Clinton brought white nationalism into the immediate political discussion. Their reasoning, in Bannon's words:
"We polled the race stuff and it didn't matter."
To avoid discussing and denouncing racism in the United States while a white supremacist movement grows in strength is akin to complicity. Within the context of Bannon's history and Trump's actions over the past few days, it is thinly veiled endorsement.
Chief Strategist Steve Bannon has been the dark voice in Trump's ear from his campaign days into his presidency, and to examine the president's recent moral failings is to examine Bannon's as well. Trump's courtship of the alt-right is linked to his association with Bannon, and while the president is responsible for his own actions, the influence the former executive chair of Breitbart has on him cannot be underestimated.
When Trump initially refused to explicitly condemn the alt-right groups responsible for the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, it was both indicative of his beliefs and a reprehensible political strategy influenced by Bannon. When Trump went so far on Tuesday evening as to equate the neo-Nazis at Charlottesville with the counter-protesters, it was to maintain power with the help of racist thugs at the expense of good Americans.
Contrary to what Bannon told Green, "the race stuff" does matter — both he and Trump know it. After all, they're trying to use it to their advantage.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters photographer Joshua Roberts