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My view: Utahns, Latter-day Saints should publicly denounce Steve Bannon's appointment

FILE - In this Friday, Nov. 11, 2016, file photo, Stephen Bannon, campaign CEO for President-elect Donald Trump, leaves Trump Tower in New York.
FILE - In this Friday, Nov. 11, 2016, file photo, Stephen Bannon, campaign CEO for President-elect Donald Trump, leaves Trump Tower in New York.
Evan Vucci, Associated Press

When I visit family and friends in other states, they sometimes ask me what it is like being Jewish and living in Utah. I always answer the same: it’s great! As a Jewish American, almost anywhere I live I am in the religious minority. One thing I love about living in Utah is that both the LDS Church and its members, the predominant culture here, are sensitive to and familiar with what it means to belong to a religious minority. Seeking refuge from religious persecution features prominently in LDS history, and I have always felt extraordinarily welcome here. The respect towards Jewish people is explicit and entrenched.

And so I have observed with disappointment our congressional delegation’s silence about the appointment by President-elect Donald Trump of Stephen Bannon to a senior and influential White House position. Bannon was previously a senior editor at the website Breitbart News. This website promotes white nationalism and alt-right views; Bannon has bragged about Breitbart being a mouthpiece of the alt-right. These groups promote deeply racist, misogynist, anti-Islamic, anti-Semitic and anti-Mormon views. They are proud of this. Visit any alt-right or white nationalist website, and witness how they boldly champion these prejudices

In my experience, this is not what Utahns stand for, regardless of political party. These white nationalist values should be held in contempt by people in our state. Unfortunately, these groups have been emboldened by the election of Trump. Had there been an option in the voting booth that included, “Trump, except for the white nationalist bits,” I’d like to think most Trump voters would have opted for it. But there was no such option. The appointment of Bannon is an endorsement of white nationalism. If this is not what Utah Trump voters supported, now is the time to say so.

So I ask my fellow Utahns, especially those who supported Trump, to stand up and publicly denounce Bannon’s appointment. Do not let the white nationalists take a Trump vote and use it as cover; show the nation what I know of Utah, that it is a tolerant and accepting state.

To Utah’s congressional delegation, I ask you to stand up and denounce Bannon’s appointment. Let Trump know there is no place in the White House for those sympathetic to white nationalism. Now is the time for our leaders to lead. Now is the time for our leaders to forcefully condemn Bannon’s appointment and those it emboldens. Stand up for all Utahns and show the nation what leadership is. Unfortunately, so far our leaders have been silent, and to be silent is to be complicit.

Matt Haber is chairman of the department of philosophy at the University of Utah. His opinions do not necessarily reflect those of the University of Utah.