When I first saw the headline that Steve Bannon would serve in the White House as a chief strategist and senior counselor to President Donald Trump, I felt sick to my stomach. I experienced this dark, terrifying moment of deja vu — the phenomenon of Bannon is not new. We have seen this before.

It was as if I was witnessing this political moment through the eyes of my Jewish, Polish ancestors, watching a nationalist movement sweep the country and a hateful anti-Semite take his spot just a breath away from the presidency.

Make no mistake about it — Bannon is an anti-Semite and a white nationalist. Oh, and he is a Hoya, graduating with a master’s degree from the School of Foreign Service in 1982.

As a Jewish student at Georgetown, I have always felt spiritually nourished, supported and welcomed. I have never felt like my religious difference was merely “tolerated,” but rather that my existence here as a proud Jew allows Georgetown to better live out its Jesuit values of interreligious understanding, faith and justice and community in diversity.

However, as a Jewish woman in the United States, I have never felt more afraid, thanks in no small part to my fellow Hoya Steve Bannon. Through his role heading the white-nationalist website Breitbart News, Bannon propagated a racist, xenophobic, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic agenda. His website frequently targeted Jewish journalists with hateful slurs, spurring waves of death threats and shockingly offensive images directed at their Twitter accounts.

Bannon maintained and directed one of the most hateful, terrifying and stomach-churning dark corners of the internet. But the impact of what he says and does has ramifications far beyond the internet, especially now that he sits in one of the most powerful seats in the country.

Following the presidential election, Jewish communities across the country have been terrorized by a sharp uptick in anti-Semitism. This year alone has already seen more than 50 bomb threats to Jewish community centers and synagogues, and it is only February. The New York Police Department found that hate crimes against Jews in New York City have increased threefold since the election. If you do not see a connection between Bannon and the rise in anti-Semitism, you are not looking close enough.

Bannon’s statements and actions are so far outside the realm of what we are taught to value at Georgetown that to discuss them in the same sentence feels unnatural. My experience as a Jewish woman at Georgetown has been characterized by moments of pluralism and tolerance: taking a class taught by a rabbi, imam and priest, hearing a Jesuit give the d’var Torah sermon at a Shabbat service and praying on Yom Kippur — our holiest holiday — in Georgetown’s historic Gaston Hall.

Clearly, Bannon did not graduate from Georgetown with the same moral foundation or appreciation for diverse expressions of spirituality and faith that so many of us learn alongside our curriculum. We can either consider Bannon’s Georgetown degree a fluke, a blip on our otherwise successful record of producing honorable, service-oriented graduates — or, we can make a point of proving that Hoyas are better than Bannon.

As Georgetown students, we have the privilege of an excellent education in history and politics. We have the ability to attend religious services and cultural celebrations different from our own.

So when Bannon peddles hate and fear and attempts to turn our country down a dark and horrifying path, we can prove that our Georgetown education really does make us men and women for others, and speak out against him — not just now, when Bannon is in the headlines, but every day for the next four years.

Because whether he is making news, Bannon’s presence in the White House is an attack on my Jewishness, a threat to the future of our country and an embarrassment to Hoyas everywhere.

Jenna Galper is a senior in the College. She previously served as the president of the Jewish Student Association.

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

21 Comments

  1. This entire unhinged screed is basically libel

  2. Class of 1975 says:

    I agree with SFS 2016. The post was libelous.

  3. Well put Jenna! This is a beautifully written article!

  4. Bannon has kept his hands generally clean but has a multitude of proxies and associates engaged in despicable behavior; and he certainly profited from it. The (Muslim) Ban has his branding all over it.

  5. Georgetown Prof says:

    There is nothing libelous in this essay. I’m proud of Jenna for speaking up so eloquently against the hate and abuse that has become normalized under the Breitbart-ization of the White House.

  6. I literally had to pinch myself after reading this.

    Have you even heard of what Jon Brown said on campus the other day?

    And you’re afraid of Bannon? Time for a reality check.

    • I burned up the Google to find out who “Jon Brown” was and did find him. What he says is awful, but he’s a harmless college prof. Bannon is right-hand-man to the POTUS. I don’t fear the ravings of a madman, unless he has the power to act on those ravings.

  7. While I don’t know Bannon, I think you are wrong about him especially as to the charge of anti-semitism. While I was teaching part-time at the University of California at Irvine, I started a blog that dealt partly with campus anti-semitism and became an activist fighting against it. On several occasions while Bannon was editor at Breitbart, that site quoted reports I had written and supported me.

    In addition, I would ask the writer if slavery and rape are Hoya values. If not then someone needs to talk to Georgetown Professor Jonathan Brown, who just recently spoke in Herndon and justified certain forms of rape and slavery..

    http://garyfouse.blogspot.com/2017/02/more-on-georgetown-professor-jonathan.html

  8. ” If you do not see a connection between Bannon and the rise in anti-Semitism, you are not looking close enough.”

    Being on a college campus, you should know that the rise in anti-semitism is not due to people like Bannon. It is coming primarily from Islamic quarters. On American college campuses, that is translated into pro-Palestinian agitation against Israel that all too often spills over into anti-semitic screeds directed at Jews themselves..

    • Georgetown Prof says:

      Please refrain from using the comments section of the Georgetown student newspaper as a platform for spreading anti-Muslim sentiment. You should know that Georgetown was the first Catholic university in the US to appoint a full-time Muslim chaplain. Interreligious dialogue is promoted through the university’s Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, among other programs and departments. The commitment to respect for all faiths and dialogue lies at the core of our Jesuit identity.

      As for Steve Bannon, see:

      https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2016/11/15/anti-defamation-league-decries-stephen-bannon-while-other-jewish-groups-stay-silent/?utm_term=.40765fa9407e

      http://www.npr.org/2016/11/15/502165973/ex-breitbart-executive-brings-alt-right-ties-to-the-white-house

      http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/08/stephen-bannon-donald-trump-alt-right-breitbart-news

      • Dear (anonymous) Georgetown professor.

        Maybe instead of referring to my “anti-Muslim sentiment” you should address the statements about slavery and rape that Prof. Brown made at Herndon. I am confident that I am stating facts. So confident I attach my name (as I always do) to my comments.

        Unlike you.

        • Georgetown Prof says:

          Dear Gary Fouse,

          I appreciate that you are concerned about what, in your view, is the cause of anti-Semitism on your own college campus. Why, then, did I express concern over your comments and characterize them as anti-Muslim? Because you told a student who had expressed her positive experiences within a university environment of respect for all faiths and a tradition of interreligious dialogue (including a class taught by a rabbi, imam, and priest) that anti-Semitism comes “primarily from Islamic quarters.” In doing so, you were being divisive, by which I mean that you were attempting to drive a wedge between people where there was none before, rather than contributing to a constructive dialogue. The problem with anti-Semitism isn’t Muslims. It’s anti-Semitism.

          Next, your concerns regarding Jonathan Brown. Why is it up to the student or me to address this issue? Your problem is with Jonathan Brown. Again, in the spirit of constructive dialogue, why not contact him directly and ask for clarification of his comments? Did you attend his lecture? Why do his comments trouble you so much? What did he mean when he said what he did?

          Why post about this on your blog, including copying and pasting this exchange from the comments section? Is this constructive dialogue? Your problem is with me and Jonathan Brown. So what do the readers of your blog have to do with this?

          You ask “Just what are Hoya values?” This is what they are. We talk to one another and we recognize that we are better when we try to understand one another.

          • First point Anonymous professor. Based on my own observations at UCI and other universities, as well as the world in general, I stand by my statement that most anti-semitism today is Islamic driven. Anti-semitism by neo-Nazis, skin heads or assorted racists today is dwarfed by Islamic anti-semitism. In Europe, Jews are leaving in droves due to harassment and assaults by Muslim immigrants. On US college campuses, it is the Israel-Palestinian conflict that drives much of it. All too often, legitimate criticism of Israel, which is by itself, not necessarily anti-Semitic does cross over into anti-Semitism and condemnation of Jews as people often dragging up old stereotypes. BTW: Just for the record, I am not Jewish.

            Jew hatred is deeply embedded in Islamic teachings from the Koran to the hadith and modern interpretations by Islamic scholars and imams all over the world including Yusuf al Qaradawi just to name one very prominent scholar. I am not accusing all Muslims of anti-semitism or anything else, but to ignore the anti-semitism with Islam is to stick one’s head in the sand.

            As for the interfaith class you mentioned, I have attended many such events. In principle, they are great, but in reality they tend to be full of misinformation about how Islam, Judaism and Christianity are so alike and that Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance. Scratch just below the surface and the truth lies just below. I have done my research on Islam for years. Need I bring up the persecution of Christians and other religious minorities in Muslim-majority lands?

            I am not trying to be divisive, but anti-semitism is in a resurgence, and it is futile to talk about it without naming the perpetrators. I am not trying to cast blame on all Muslims, but we (and decent Muslims) need to face up to some basic truths. Islam is in need of reform. Brown’s comments about slavery and rape make that clear.

            As for Brown. I am just one of so many who who have been shocked by his alleged comments. He doesn’t need to respond to me. He needs to make a public statement. I was merely responding to an ill-timed article in the Hoya about how Steve Bannon doesn’t represent Hoya values when nothing was being said about the values being expressed (allegedly) by a GU professor.

            As for my blog, it is partially concerned with what goes on at our universities, where education is being forgotten for the sake of indoctrination. This is a worthwhile story as is your anonymous defense of Brown while identifying yourself as a GU professor.

            And I repeat. While it is your right to remain anonymous, if you are so sure of your values and those of GU, why not attach your name to your writings?

      • These three links are nothing more than hit pieces with no concrete facts pertaining to any statements by Bannon himself. The worst quote I see attributed to him is his use of the word “dykes”. No anti-semitic quotes, no n-words. These are cleverly-written articles full of innuendos accusing him of racism without proof. Typical of the left.

        As for the Talal Center, it is nothing more than a forum to spread Islamist apologia and make excuses for the horrors and religious intolerance coming out of the Middle East. I would also add that it was built with 20 million dollars from Bin Talal, the same man who offered 10 million to NYC after 9-11. Mayor Giuliani rejected it because bin Talal had blamed American policies for 9-11. The mayor had principles which Georgetown lacked.

        • Your two paragraphs define our inability to debate constructively. Reject that which conflicts with your chosen view, and declare as truth that which supports our chosen view.

          If you don’t see xenophobia in Trump’s actions (including his choice of advisors, and resulting actions), and if you see the US as blameless in terrorism, then you are no longer engaged in a learning process. You’re reduced to being an advocate for your past self.

  9. Boo-hoo. Go back to your safe spaces. Obama wasn’t exactly pro-Catholic, and no one freaked out. His anti-Israel actions should’ve garnered more protest and angst than Bannon. I find it hilarious that liberal news outlines try to justify how Bannon can be pro-Israel but anti-Jewish. Gee, I really support the Vatican, but I’m anti-Catholic.

    21st-Century Hoyas are a bunch of babies, and your close-minded professors do you zero service. Good luck in the real world. Losers.

  10. That is an accusation that can cut both ways.

    Trump does not object to legal immigration. He objects to illegal immigration and the immigration of those who would harm us. His primary duty is to protect the people of the United States. That is what he is trying to do.

Leave a Reply to Madeline C Cancel

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*