In the past few days, stories about two different Steve Bannon film projects, one of which was never produced and the second, which was screened at this summer’s Republican convention. The Washington Post reported on the first film, which Bannon was shopping around Hollywood in 2007. It was to be titled (somewhat awkwardly): Destroying the Great Satan: The Rise of Islamic Facism [sic] in America. The script outline circulated by Bannon offers even more explicit Muslim-hatred than Bannon’s 2014 Vatican speech, about which I posted a few days ago. Here is the Post’s portrayal of the film:
The flag fluttering above the U.S. Capitol is emblazoned with a crescent and star. Chants of “Allahu Akbar” rise from inside the building.
That’s the provocative opening scene of a documentary-style movie outlined 10 years ago by Stephen K. Bannon that envisioned radical Muslims taking over the country and remaking it into the “Islamic States of America…”
The outline shows how Bannon…sought to issue a warning about the threat posed by radical Muslims and their “enablers among us”…The outline says, institutions such as the media, the Jewish community and government agencies were appeasing jihadists aiming to create an Islamic republic.
The eight-page draft…proposes a three-part movie that would trace “the culture of intolerance” behind sharia law, examine the “Fifth Column” made up of “Islamic front groups” and identify the American enablers paving “the road to this unique hell on earth.”
He planned to rely on the “research” of ardent Islamophobes, Steve Emerson and Robert Spencer, the latter a close ally and associate of Pam Geller. Spencer has written for Breitbart and been interviewed a number of times there. Both Emerson and Spencer profess great admiration for Bannon in the Post interview.
Curiously, the Clarion Fund had already (in 2005) produced and distributed an Islamophobic film, Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West, which covered the exact same territory in the exact same histrionic fashion. It was funded by the Clarion Fund, which is a closely-held subsidiary of the pro-settler group, Aish HaTorah. Copies of Obsession was mailed to 28-million voters during the 2008 presidential election in a failed effort to support John McCain’s campaign.
The key difference between the two projects: one of Clarion’s key focuses was on Islam as a threat to Israel and Jews, while Bannon’s film would’ve focussed on Islam as a threat to Christian civilization. As we’ll see below, Bannon has little use for Jews per se. That’s why he omitted references to Jewish suffering and the six-million in the Holocaust Remembrance Day White House statement. Despite these differences, Bannon’s project would appear to be highly derivative. And I wonder why he wanted to develop it at all.
After taking over for Andrew Breitbart, Bannon developed his own forum at Breitbart News to promote his views. He teamed up with Citizen United founder David Bossie, to produce a series of films promoting his alt-right Weltanschauung. The latest of six in a series, The Torchbearers, reviews the whole of western (i.e. “Christian”) civilization focussing especially on the historic disasters caused by a flight from God. Sarah Posner described it to Fresh Air’s Terry Gross as:
GROSS: …You describe it as being about the war between good and evil and how tyranny and oppression occur when society abandons God. How did the Holocaust figure into that film?
POSNER: Well, the film depicts various moments in history as being the result of the banishment of God from the public square or the abandonment of religion, namely, Christianity. And so it has a very lengthy sequence on the Holocaust with much footage of concentration camps, people being shipped to concentration camps. It’s really terrible and painful, actually, to watch. But the film does not discuss anti-Semitism as a cause of the Holocaust. It fits the Holocaust in with these other moments in history like the French Revolution or the Industrial Revolution. It’s just a bizarre retelling of history. But what struck me about it was it doesn’t discuss anti-Semitism.
The film is narrated by Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson and is squarely aimed at a Christian evangelical audience. Posner suggests that Bannon used the film to court this audience on behalf of the Trump campaign (he assumed leadership of the campaign a few weeks after the screening). So it makes perfect sense that it would downplay the suffering of Jews qua Jews or anti-Semitism. Because the chief purveyors of anti-Semitism through history have been Christians (not Muslims, as Pam Geller claims). This is an inconvenient truth Bannon wishes to banish.
Steve Bannon will prosecute a war to the death with Islam. And he will do it from an office at the White House. And thousands more American boys may die in pursuit of his sick, twisted vision of history.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.