By Martin Kidston
The chairperson of the Missoula City Council, who is also the city’s acting mayor, made three phone calls on Monday evening to voice her personal concern over president-elect Donald Trump’s appointment of Steve Bannon as his chief policy adviser.
Marilyn Marler, acting as a constituent and not an elected official, called each of Montana’s three congressional representatives to state her opinion – that Trump’s appointment of Bannon is “beyond appalling.”
“I’m really troubled that someone like (Bannon), with such a printed history of being racist and anti-Semitic, is going to have an advisory role in the White House,” Marler told the Missoula Current on Monday. “We’ve been hearing since the election how we need to work together, move forward. Appointing someone so divisive doesn’t bode well.”
As a chief editorial strategist and executive, Bannon helped build Breitbart News Network into an alt-right, anti-establishment political movement. The outlet was launched in 2007 with the aim of being “unapologetically” pro-freedom and pro-Israel.
Bannon took over the website in 2012, growing its monthly hits to more than 21 million. Bloomberg describes the site as “a haven for people who think Fox News is too polite and restrained.”
But while the site has gained a robust following among some conservatives, it also has come under fire for what others view as sexist and anti-Semitic content – one that has lent a voice to the white nationalist movement.
Trump’s appointment of Bannon drew immediate praise from the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and other white nationalist groups, who are urging Trump to keep his campaign promises of deporting illegals, ending birth-right citizenship, and taking a closer look at Muslim immigrants.
David Duke, a former KKK leader, called Bannon’s appointment an “excellent” decision, according to The Hill. Rocky Suhayda, chairman of the American Nazi Party, told CNN that “perhaps The Donald is for real.”
Marler called Sens. Jon Tester and Steve Daines, as well as Rep. Ryan Zinke, to express her concerns over Trump’s appointment of Bannon. Both Daines and Zinke are Republicans, the party that now controls both the House and Senate, as well as the White House.
Marler said it’s now their responsibility to build inclusiveness, not division.
“I called them to say I’m discouraged by the naming of that appointment, and I hope they will make clear to the president-elect that that’s not an appropriate adviser and doesn’t reflect Montana values,” Marler said. “This isn’t a way to bring unity by bringing somebody on the far right known for hateful speech.”
Marler posted her efforts on Facebook and urged others to call their representatives in Washington, D.C. Her post received mixed reviews, with some in support and some against, including her father, Bill Marler.
“He will be president, and that means he gets to pick his staff, not you,” wrote Bill in response to Marler’s post. “The thousands of cretins crawling the streets of America like so many cockroaches in the form of communists, anarchists, rabble rousers, illegal criminals and general dumb asses is stunning.”
Others, however, sided with Marler.
“Speaking your mind is best to make a difference,” wrote SaraLee Gershon. “You were not the only ones.”
Contact reporter Martin Kidston at firstname.lastname@example.org