White House chief strategist Steve Bannon has attacked white nationalists as “clowns” as the fallout from violent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, continues. “Ethno-nationalism — it’s losers,” Bannon reportedly said in an interview published by magazine American Prospect on Wednesday.
Bannon’s comments follow a weekend of turmoil in the US after a white nationalist “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville last week turned violent following clashes between far-right and counter-protestors, CNN reported.
The rally, attended by neo-Nazis and white supremacists, was in protest over the removal of a statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee, the commander of the Confederate Army in the 19th-century American Civil War.
One woman was killed when a suspected far-right sympathiser drove a car into a crowd of counter-protestors. In the days following the incident, President Donald Trump made a series of remarks — some off the cuff — that were strongly rebuked by both Democrats and Republicans.
In the interview, Bannon was asked if there was a connection between the economic nationalism that he supports and the white nationalism seen in Charlottesville.
“Ethno-nationalism — it’s losers,” he said. “It’s a fringe element. I think the media plays it up too much, and we gotta help crush it, you know, uh, help crush it more.”
“These guys are a collection of clowns,” Bannon added.
Bannon, the former editor of the far-right news website Breitbart, is a controversial figure within the White House.
A source close to Bannon told CNN he did not believe he was being interviewed when he spoke with the co-founder and co-editor of the American Prospect.
Bannon and the White House did not comment on the interview.