WASHINGTON – Rep. Judy Chu (D-Pasadena) joined 168 members of the U.S. House, led by Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) on Nov. 16 in sending a letter asking President-elect Donald Trump to rescind “alt-right” leader Steve Bannon’s appointment as White House chief strategist.
Chu released the following statement: “After winning election to our nation’s highest office, Donald Trump said his mission was to unite the country. Yet his first staffing choice does the complete opposite. Steve Bannon has made a career out of inflammatory and offensive headlines about women, minorities, and political opponents.
“That’s not perception, that’s the reality. And it’s why Donald Trump brought him on to lead his inflammatory campaign. Now that the campaign is over, we must focus on unity and progress.
“Steve Bannon, as a champion of the ‘alt-right,’ is simply not suited to bring our country together and, in fact, exacerbates the worst fears of a Trump presidency. I have heard from an incredible number of constituents who worry about an administration that will assume the bigotry and insults that characterized Bannon’s time at Breitbart.
“Furthermore, I am disappointed that no Republicans have decided to join us in speaking out against this pick. For the sake of a smooth transition and in order to establish a White House that represents all Americans, I call on President-elect Trump to rescind his hiring of Steve Bannon.”
Chu is chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. Other members who signed the letter include Reps. Ami Bera of Sacramento, Madeleine Bordallo of Guam, Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, Colleen Hanabusa of Hawaii, Mike Honda of San Jose, Ted Lieu of Los Angeles, Doris Matsui of Sacramento, Grace Meng of New York, Bobby Scott of Virginia, and Mark Takano of Riverside.
The letter reads, in part: “Since the election there have been a number of incidents across the country in which minorities, including Muslim Americans, African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Jewish Americans, have been the targets of violence, harassment and intimidation. Mr. Bannon’s appointment sends the wrong message to people who have engaged in those types of activities, indicating that they will not only be tolerated, but endorsed by your administration. Millions of Americans have expressed fear and concern about how they will be treated by the Trump Administration and your appointment of Mr. Bannon only exacerbates and validates their concerns.
“As the executive chairman of Breitbart News, Mr. Bannon repeatedly and aggressively pushed stories that promote anti-Semitism, xenophobia, and racism. During an interview last summer, Mr. Bannon bragged that Breitbart was ‘the platform for the alt-right,’ a movement that upholds white nationalism while strongly rejecting diversity in any form.
“Under Mr. Bannon’s leadership, Breitbart has referred to a leading Republican who opposed your election as a ‘renegade Jew,’ suggested ‘young Muslims in the West are a ticking time bomb’ declared that the ‘Confederate flag proclaims a glorious heritage,’ and praised the alt-right as a ‘smarter’ version of ‘old-school racist skinheads.’
“Disturbingly, leading white nationalists like former KKK Grand Dragon David Duke, American Nazi Party Chairman Rocky J. Suhadya, Richard Spencer, Peter Brimelow, and Brad Griffin have praised the news of Mr. Bannon’s appointment. We believe it should concern you that civil rights groups, including the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center, are widely opposed to Mr. Bannon’s appointment.
“We strongly believe that Mr. Bannon’s appointment will not allow the country to heal and come together as one. As one of your top advisors, the White House chief strategist will help set the tone for your administration. The person in this role must be prepared to serve the interests of all Americans, not those of a select few.”
In Los Angeles, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, a national civil rights organization, said in a statement, “In the days following the 2016 presidential election, our nation has witnessed an upward spike in hateful harassment, vandalism, and attacks against people and communities singled out by Bannon and Breitbart News, which he leads.
“In addition to many well-publicized attacks against Latinos, Muslims, women, and LGBT individuals, Asian Americans have been harassed and told to ‘go back’ or ‘get out.’ There have also been reports of physical attacks on individuals and organizations and churches serving Asian Americans, including threats or vandalism. Only one week from the election, more than 400 reported hate attacks have occurred, with many other incidents likely unreported.
“There is no place in the White House for anyone, let alone a senior advisor, who espouses xenophobic, racist, sexist, homophobic, and anti-Muslim sentiments. Since the election, the president-elect has stated the intention to strike a tone of unity, but a nation divided cannot unite when the president’s chief advisor holds blatant and well-documented hostility towards so many Americans.
“We demand that the president-elect immediately rescind the offer to Steve Bannon and we vow to stand up against attacks on all communities. Asian Americans Advancing Justice refuses to accept the normalization of hate from the highest reaches of our nation’s leadership.”