White nationalist sympathizer and unapologetic Islamophobe Steve Bannon evidently misrepresented an anecdote he claimed inspired his fear of Muslims (read: he lied). The former Breitbart editor spoke to Bloomberg Businessweek journalist Joshua Green about “storming” the presidency and his partnership with President Trump in a newly released book.
Among Bannon’s many controversial, irrational ideologies is his fear that Muslims and Muslim-majority nations are a threat to America’s future. Bannon explained his ridiculous conclusions by way of now disputed story about docking in Pakistan while he served in Navy. “It was not hard to see, as a junior officer, sitting there, that [the threat] was just going to be huge,” Bannon said of the experience.
Bannon continued to justify his Islamophobia by commenting on the “mass poverty” that surrounded him in Karachi, Pakistan. Here’s the excerpt from Green’s book, per The Intercept:
We’d pull into a place like Karachi, Pakistan – this is 1979, and I’ll never forget it – the British guys came on board, because they still ran the port. The city had 10 million people at the time. We’d get out there, and 8 million of them had to be below the age of fifteen. It was an eye-opener. We’d been other places like the Philippines where there was mass poverty. But it was nothing like the Middle East. It was just a complete eye-opener. It was the other end of the earth.
There are several problems with Bannon’s story, as The Intercept’s Peter Maass noted (the first being that Pakistan is rarely considered part of the Middle East).
Bannon audaciously asserted British forces ran the port the American Navy destroyer docked on when they arrived in Karachi — I say audacious because it’s a claim that’s easily challenged, and it was. The port of Karachi wasn’t run by the British in 1979.
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But Bannon’s most audacious fabrication was his assertion that the USS Paul F. Foster ever docked in Pakistan during the time he was aboard. Maass spoke to six people who served with Bannon on the USS Paul F. Foster’s 1979-1980 deployment. None of them shared Bannon’s memory of docking in Karachi.
From The Intercept:
Six sailors who served on the Foster with Bannon told The Intercept that the vessel did not stop at Karachi during its 1979-1980 deployment. The recollections of these enlisted men and officers are supported by the ship’s deck logs, which show no stop on the way to the Arabian Sea and are available to the public at the National Archives. And a map of the Foster’s port calls that was published in its “cruisebook” shows stops in Hawaii, Guam, the Philippines, Christmas Island, Hong Kong, and Singapore — but not Karachi.
It’s entirely plausible that Bannon is so committed to rationalizing his xenophobic fantasies, he actually believed he docked in Karachi and witness millions of young men on its shores. Whether or not Bannon knew he was lying to Green is unimportant, but that Bannon’s ruthless ideologies might be rooted in fiction is important considering he now wields unwavering power in the White House.
Bannon’s delusional fantasies are taking shape as policy and the self-described prince of Darkness simply whispers in the president’s ear to further his cause.