The New Yorker has dropped plans to invite former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon to headline its festival due next month.
The magazine's announcement that Bannon would not only be attending the New Yorker Festival in October but also headlining it set off a scorching round of criticism, leading to a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer to condemn the move and several other prominent guests to pull out.
In response, New Yorker's editor, David Remnick, released a statement, explaining why the former aide to the president would no longer be invited to the event:
A statement from David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker, explaining his decision to no longer include Steve Bannon in the 2018 New Yorker Festival. pic.twitter.com/opayiw5GQ2— The New Yorker (@NewYorker) September 3, 2018
Sure, the invitation was rescinded, however, the question remained why was a person, notorious for his vile, bigoted views, invited in the first place.
Remnick had an answer: "I have every intention of asking him difficult questions and engaging in a serious and even combative conversation."
Here's the problem with Remnick's rationale: While engaging in public intellectual debate is OK, engaging in a public intellectual debate with someone like Bannon is not.
Here's why: Bannon is a known white nationalist. A bigot who is not afraid to air his hateful views about race, color, religion and gender.
And hate does not deserve a platform.
Before his appointment to the White House, he proudly called his Breitbart news site “the platform for the alt-right.” He called for the formation of a "Christian militia" and believes "the West is at war with Islam." His former wife claimed he didn't want his daughters going to school with "whiny" Jews. He stated disenfranchising black voters might not be “such a bad thing."
All of this information was public knowledge. Yet, Trump hired him. Though, after personal differences, the president was forced to fire him.
However, after being booted from the White House, Bannon's vitriol has only gotten worse. Since then, he has been busy, quite publicly so, in fueling rightwing populism across Europe.
In fact, Bannon is planning to launch a foundation, which, according to the Daily Beast, would be called "The Movement" to help rightwing parties network in a more efficient way across the continent. He is working towards forming a right-wing "supergroup" in order to gain a populist foothold in the European Parliament after next year's elections.
In March, during a visit to France, Bannon told an audience of far-right politicians to embrace the label of "racist," and consider it "a badge of honor."
Therefore, inviting Bannon to an "intellectual" debate is not exactly different from inviting David Duke.
It's wrong and futile.
In order to further understand why it is almost impossible to have a civil debate with Bannon, let's take a look at his response to the cancelation of his appearance at the festival:
"In what I would call a defining moment, David Remnick showed he was gutless when confronted by the howling online mob," he stated.
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images