HARLEM — The White House is now directly linked to white supremacists following President-elect Donald Trump's choice of his campaign CEO Steve Bannon as senior adviser, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Monday.
Bannon is the chairman of Breitbart Media, a popular mouthpiece for what is now described as the "alt-right," a movement that rejects mainstream conservatism but that is also seen as promoting racist views, white supremacy, anti-Semitism and white nationalism.
"This means that an organization that's been closely linked to white supremacists is going to have a representative in the White House," de Blasio said Monday morning during an appearance on Hot 97. "Even in the administrations I've fundamentally disagreed with, certainly over the last century, we've never seen anything like that."
Bannon has disagreed with the description of the "alt-right" as racists or white supremacists, but the movement is largely composed of members who rail against multiculturalism, feminism and the idea of so-called political correctness.
Groups and message boards associated with the movement have posted racist and anti-Semitic symbols and statements online.
During the presidential campaign, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton described the alt-right as openly racist.
"These are racist ideas. These are race-baiting ideas. Anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, anti-women ideas – all key tenets making up an emerging racist ideology known as the 'alt-right,'" Clinton said during a speech in Nevada.
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Trump has made derogatory comments during his campaign for president, referring to Mexicans as rapists, announcing a plan to prevent Muslim immigrants from entering the country to prevent terrorism and saying that people are in imminent danger of getting shot just walking out of their homes in African-American neighborhoods.
"We need to hold Trump accountable for anything he does that encourages hate and division," said the mayor.
De Blasio, who has sought to lead a national progressive political movement, said it is necessary to fight back against that rhetoric he says may have helped to spur an increase in hate crimes.
"Some people now, unfortunately, take a signal from Donald Trump's rhetoric that it's open season against all the different kinds of people that Trump insulated and denigrated in his campaign," said de Blasio.
The mayor has said that he would try to work with Trump on areas of mutual interest, such as infrastructure, but that the city would fight any federal policy that discriminates against New Yorkers such as Trump's insistence that stop-and-frisk should be used aggressively.
"We have to resist and we have to be organized all over the country to fight against policies that are extreme and that undermine people we represent," said de Blasio.
Trump's far right views may end up galvanizing people, said the mayor.
"In his extremism may be the seeds for bigger changes in a progressive direction simply because people will react so strongly and will organize and fight back. We have to be leaders in New York City because these values go against the values of New York City," said de Blasio.