Everyone needs to get very comfortable saying “white supremacist” right now

Over the weekend, president-elect Donald Trump appointed two members of his White House staff: Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee as his chief of staff and the chairman of Breitbart News, Steve Bannon as his chief strategist. Priebus is your average tool, no worse than someone like Mike Pence — which, to be clear, is still extremely fucking bad. But they’re still the type of conservative that Americans have dealt with before (which, again, is extremely fucking bad). But Bannon is something else entirely. What he is, specifically, is a white supremacist, and we shouldn’t let anyone call him anything other than that.

You will no doubt hear Bannon called by other names, because the media has a problem letting “white supremacist” roll off its tongue because actually saying that we have a squad of white supremacists currently packing their bags for the White House is a legitimately scary reminder that we have a squad of white supremacists packing their bags for the White House. But everyone needs to get used to saying “white supremacist” right now and calling a spade a spade, because that is the only thing that is going to get us through this mess.*

It’s not only OK to call Bannon a white supremacist, because he is one, but it’s essential. It’s not a hysterical attack, as former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee suggested when he tweeted Monday morning, “Critics of Steve Bannon know he’s smarter and tougher than they are. When CAIR [the Council on American–Islamic Relations] doesn’t like you that is a good thing. Bannon a good guy.” Anyone who defends Bannon like that is probably a white supremacist, too. Or they’re at least sympathetic to the ideology, which is just as bad.

Language matters

White supremacy is technically different than white nationalism (spoiler: neither is good!), but the ideologies overlap in major ways. You will hear people use “nationalist” more often than “supremacist,” since it softens the racist overtones a bit and makes it easier to swallow. But if you’re a white nationalist, you are a white supremacist; let’s not pretend they differ all that much. And you’re part of the “alt-right,” a sect of the conservative party that “eschews” establishment conservatism, but is made up primarily of white supremacists organized on social media, where they harass people and read Bannon’s Breitbart News.

We should probably stop saying “alt-right” too. Shit.

You can read about Bannon and some Breitbart headlines to scare yourself later on today. The only thing anyone can do now is remember that language matters. Bannon is going to be in the White House consulting Trump, and we can only imagine the things they will do. The only thing that might help is by calling things out when we see them. Like white supremacy. (I’m just going to keep writing it. My finger muscles need to lock that typing pattern in. We got a long four years to go.)

Already, The New York Times called Bannon a “right-wing media provocateur,” in their report of the appointment. On Sunday, 60 Minutes called him an “ex-Goldman Sachs executive.” On, MSNBC’s Morning Joe, anchors said the problem with Bannon is his “Breitbart connection.”

NOPE. He’s a fucking white supremacist troll who’s brand is built literally on hate. And calling him ANYTHING OTHER THAN THAT isn’t a matter of using flowery language for a prettier editorial effect — it’s actively how we start to normalize the most atrocious things in our society. Again, those thing are heading for the fucking White House right now. We need to constantly, ceaselessly using the clearest, starkest, harshest language when talking about what’s happening and who’s doing it, because easing our sense of alarm is literally how we start to accept these people and the unspeakably fucked up things they’re about to start doing.

Say the words.

The hate will trickle down

I don’t want to sound like Chicken Little running around screaming that the sky is falling, but the sky is most definitely falling now that there is a white supremacist in the White House helping call the shots.  It will fall whether or not the media and Americans call Bannon a white supremacist, and whether or not they call Trump’s policies nativist. Does calling it an “officer-involved shooting” change the fact that an unarmed black person was killed for no goddamn reason? Nope. But it does hit the ears with such a soft ease that, pfft, you might not even hear it! You might just keep living your life and not thinking “oh, black people are getting gunned the fuck down on the street every day,” and then you won’t do anything to stop it, and then it’ll keep happening, and a huge part of how the most horrible things in the world happen is when the people telling you about them decide to speak softly and carry gentle words. Because then it doesn’t sound so bad.

But it is that bad.

Steve Bannon is a white supremacist and the policies will be nativist, xenophobic, and racist. Just like “grabbing pussy” is sexual assault. Just like “vigilantes” are domestic terrorists.

We can at least call these things by their names and make them real. By not calling someone a white supremacist or finding other ways to say it, like “fringe groups,” you normalize it. It’s like shoving your sweaty, dirty gym clothes under your bed — your room looks clean, but it still reeks.

This isn’t about politics anymore, or at least not the way we’re used to politics. We’re talking about a dangerous ideology. It’s about the fact that there are white supremacists and their enablers in the White House now and they were voted into office by a large portion of this country that believes that’s just fine. Don’t let other people or the media normalize this — there is no reason or excuse for a white supremacist to be in the White House.

Things are going to get ugly, so let’s at least say as much.

*LOL just kidding. Nothing is getting us through this shit.