A conversation between Steve Bannon, president Donald Trump’s former chief strategist, and CBS News’ Charlie Rose grew particularly tense during a discussion of the role of immigrants in US history and today’s society, with Bannon accusing the journalist of using a “leftist” talking point by arguing that Americans are “all immigrants.”
When Rose asked Bannon whether Trump made the right decision to give Congress six months to find a legislative solution for the 800,000 young immigrants currently protected from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, Bannon said it was a politically risky move and that he believes DACA recipients should “self-deport.”
“No path to citizenship, no path to a green card, and no amnesty,” Bannon said.
Rose challenged Bannon on this, asking whether he’s in favour of changing American tradition by reversing the country’s immigration policies.
“America is, in the eyes of so many people — and it’s what people respect America for — it is, people have been able to come here, find a place, contribute to the economy,” Rose said. “That’s what has been in America and you seem to want to turn it around and stop it.”
Bannon said that Rose “couldn’t be more dead wrong.”
“America was built on her citizens,” Bannon said.
“We’re all immigrants,” Rose said. “Except the Native Americans who were here.”
Bannon shot back, “Don’t — don’t give me — this is the thing of the leftists. Charlie, that’s beneath you.”
Bannon then went on to argue that the US was built on protectionist policies that allowed the US manufacturing and financial systems to thrive, citing the work of Alexander Hamilton — who was, in fact, an immigrant — James Polk, Henry Clay, Abraham Lincoln, and “the Roosevelts.”
“Economic nationalism is what this country was built on,” Bannon said. “We go back to that. We look after our own. We look after our citizen, we look after our manufacturing base, and guess what? This country’s going to be greater, more united, more powerful than it’s ever been. And it’s not — this is not astrophysics. OK?”
The former Trump campaign chairman, who has returned to his position at the helm of right-wing website Breitbart News, added that “every nationality, every race, every religion, every sexual preference” is welcome in this “populist economic nationalist movement” as long as they’re an American citizen.