[Also published at Huffington Post.] As reporters dig into Steve Bannon’s past and present, it’s becoming clear that he’s perfectly aware we face virtually no threat from the carefully vetted refugees his Executive Order turns away, over the signature of his protegé Donald Trump.
Bannon sees the real threat not as terrorist attacks, but as the dilution of ethnic identity. From USA Today:
“These are not Jeffersonian democrats,” he said of immigrants to Europe from Muslim majority countries in April of last year. “These are not people with thousands of years of democracy in their DNA coming up here.”
“To be brutally frank, I mean Christianity is dying in Europe, and Islam is on the rise,” he said in an interview in January 2016 with a Breitbart reporter.
During an interview in February 2016, Bannon expressed alarm about China and Islam…. “You have an expansionist Islam and you have an expansionist China. Right? They are motivated. They’re arrogant. They’re on the march. And they think the Judeo-Christian West is on the retreat.”
Bannon, impresario of the alt-right hub Breibart, is an ethnic nationalist. He believes American culture is inherently Christian, and that it is bound to the “DNA” of Europeans.
That belief is inherently Un-American — because “American,” unlike “Chinese,” “German,” “Italian,” “Russian,” or so many others, has never been an ethnic identity.
You’re not an American because you’re a member of a tribe. You’re an American because you’re loyal to the Constitution.
That’s it. That’s the point.
That’s the miracle that generations of Americans, from all over the world, have built, and have fought and died to defend. Anyone who supports what Bannon is trying to do is betraying that legacy of sacrifice, and betraying what truly makes America great.
Many who do support Bannon are sure they’re not bigots — they just value the culture that gave us what we have, and think it’s worth preserving. Of course it is. But that culture isn’t found in skin color, headgear, or religious observance. It’s found in hearts, inspired by a shared idea. E Pluribus Unum.
America is not an ethnic homeland, it’s that idea. It’s precious, powerful idea —but not an indestructible one.
We must defend it.