The Slatest

Bannon: “Let Them Call You Racist … Wear it as a Badge of Honor”

Steve Bannon (L) gestures as he stands next to France's far-right party National Front (FN) president Marine Le Pen after giving a speech during the party's annual congress, on March 10, 2018 at the Grand Palais in Lille, northern France.
Steve Bannon (L) gestures as he stands next to France’s far-right party National Front (FN) president Marine Le Pen after giving a speech during the party’s annual congress, on March 10, 2018 at the Grand Palais in Lille, northern France.
PHILIPPE HUGUEN/Getty Images

President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon told a gathering of the far-right in France that they should be proud of being called racists. “Let them call you racists,” Bannon said to members of the French National Front party at their annual congress. “Let them call you xenophobes. Let them call you nativists. Wear it as a badge of honor.” Bannon spoke in the French city of Lille, where he also met with the party’s leader, Marine Le Pen.

Why should members of the far-right wear the racist label as a badge of honor? “Because every day, we get stronger and they get weaker,” Bannon told the crowd. In his travels throughout the world, Bannon has learned that “history is on our side” because “globalists have no answers to freedom.”

Speaking to the press after the event, Bannon made it clear he believes Trump is still using his playbook when he was asked about all the recent departures from the White House. “I think President Trump has been pretty straightforward in saying, hey, when we first started, some of these advisers are what he would call globalists, and he’s clearly pivoting to more economic nationalism,” Bannon said. Some of that shift has to do with his need to “energize the base” ahead of the midterm elections, Trump’s former adviser said.

Bannon left the White House in August and Trump himself later disparaged him in a tweet as “sloppy Steve” following the publication of Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury.

The speech to the French far-right marks Bannon’s latest effort to grow his brand internationally. “All I’m trying to be,” he told the New York Times, “is the infrastructure, globally, for the global populist movement.” In a piece outlining how Bannon is taking his populist campaign to Europe, the Times notes the former White House chief strategist may also be meeting with Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orban, in the coming days. Although Bannon wouldn’t confirm that information he praised Orban as a “hero” and “the most significant guy on the scene right now.”

In a tweet announcing Bannon’s speech, the National Front’s vice president, Louis Aliot, praised the former White House adviser as “the embodiment of the rejection of the establishment, one of whose worst symbols is the European Union of Brussels.”