Essay: The Self-Pardon of White Supremacist Patriarchy

“Trump was here, you bitches.”

That is how I expected Donald Trump to end his farewell address on Tuesday at the end of his last day in office. And then I expected him to scratch his balls as he walked off. 

If Trump’s presidency began by forcing us to imagine him grabbing pussies, it found its most fitting end in the the white supremacist patriarchy that stormed the the Capitol on January 6 at Trump’s behest. And who better a stand-in for President Grab Them By the Pussy than Bigo the Ball Scratcher.

A supporter of US President Donald Trump sits inside the office of US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi as he protest inside the US Capitol in Washington, DC, January 6, 2021. Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images

You have probably seen the picture of Richard “Bigo” Barnett, stretched out in the office of the most powerful woman in the country, his feet on a desk. He is now under arrest, but while he was still high on Big Dick Energy, Bigo was happy to boast to a New York Times reporter.

“I wrote her a nasty note, put my feet up on her desk and scratched my balls,” Bigo told Matthew Rosenberg. His note to Speaker Pelosi: “Nancy, Bigo was here you bitch.”

From pussies to balls, Trump turbocharged white supremacist patriarchy. And if Donald Trump the man is leaving, Donald Trump the Movement is “only just beginning.” 

He told us so in the video of a farewell address that, one last time before he vacated the White House, established him as the figurehead of a white supremacist patriarchy that will continue calling us bitches as it scratches its balls.

“Now, as we prepare to hand power over to a new administration at noon on Wednesday, I want you to know that the movement we started is only just beginning,” Trump said, not once saying the names of President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice-President-Elect Kamala Harris.

A few hours later, he released the names of 143 people granted pardons and commutations, most prominent among them: his former adviser, Mr. America First himself: Steve Bannon, a  key strategist and adviser to Trump during his 2016 presidential campaign. Notably, he was the only member of the campaign who persuaded Trump “you can survive this,” after the Access Hollywood “grab them by the pussy” tape came out. Everyone else thought Trump was done for. From "Fear: Trump in the White House" by Bob Woodward, Chapter 4.

When Trump boasts that the America First movement has only just begun and only hours later pardons the architect of that America First movement, alarm bells must ring because when the two of them have worked together in the past, they were like cowboys driving a fascist herd of broncos across the western plains.

Days after Trump was elected, he created the new role of “chief strategist” for Bannon in his cabinet. It was such a disturbing prospect that “169 members of the House - all Democrats - sent a letter to the president-elect asking him to withdraw Bannon's nomination, saying "bigotry, anti-Semitism, and xenophobia should have no place in our society, and they certainly have no place in the White House."”

Bannon--who had once steered the far-right Breitbart site and dreamed of a right-wing “super-group” gaining a foothold in the European parliament--wrote Trump’s Inauguration speech in which he outlined his America First fascist vision. It was so disturbing, that while watching it with friends in Egypt, one of them said out loud “He sounds like one of our despots,” which I quoted in an oped for the New York Times that I headlined The American Sisi, to connect Trump with the dictator of my country of birth. Trump would later refer to Sisi as “my favourite dictator.”

One week after Trump’s Inauguration, America First kicked into action with Trump’s executive order - dreamt up by Bannon - that banned people from seven Muslim-majority countries from traveling to the US

In 2018, he told the French far-right National Front to wear being called racists “as a badge of honour.”

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Bannon, who had been keeping a low profile, resurfaced recently in time to help engineer the attempted coup to keep Trump in power. Trump ended his estrangement with Bannon, who he had once fired, in the run up to the insurrection. 

If Bigo the Ball Scratcher was the perfect avatar for Trump at the storming of the Capitol, then Bannon is the Chief of Staff for the White Supremacist Patriarchy, that has become increasingly bold under Trump’s tutelage. In April 2020, armed white supremacists incited by Trump stormed the Michigan Capitol to protest against measures aimed at curbing the pandemic. Six months later, some of those same protestors were arrested after their plot to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer was foiled. 

Armed white supremacists who stormed the nation’s Capitol two weeks ago had wanted to assassinate politicians. Much of their hate and threats were directed at female politicians. One man who had missed the storming of the Capitol by a day because his car broke down, was charged in federal court with threatening to kill Pelosi and of making multiple threats of violence against D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. Agents found a Glock 19 handgun, an assault rifle, and hundreds of rounds of ammunition in his possession. Cleveland Meredith Jr’s text messages that led to his arrest included:

Thinking about heading over to Pelosi CUNT’s speech and putting a bullet in her noggin on Live TV” 

"I'm gonna run that CUNT Pelosi over while she chews on her gums,"

I may wander over to the Mayor’s office and put a 5.56 in her skull, FKG cunt.

Six months from now - the time between the storming of the Michigan Capitol and the arrest of those plotting to kidnap Whitmer - how much further up the mountain of misogynist violence will white supremacist patriarchy have traversed? And how much guidance can it expect to gain from Bannon?

While I am glad to see Trump leave the White House, the white supremacist patriarchy he greenlit from the highest office in the land will not suddenly surrender and pack their Glocks, nor will they run out of “bitches” and “cunts” to target.   

If you hear that Trump’s pardon of Bannon is a “distraction” aimed at stealing Biden and Harris’ thunder. do not listen. When Trump says “the movement we started is only just beginning,” he knows that Bannon is a perfect steward. And his pardon of Bannon is a thank you for the latter’s prominent role in promoting the white supremacist patriarchal fuckery that ran amok on January 6.

Bannon previously served as a prominent sponsor of the “March for Trump'' cross-country December bus tour ahead of the rally that led to the storming of the Capitol and hosted rally organizers on his podcast at least 16 times as part of efforts to overturn the election results. 

Do not allow the white liberal “This is not my America” crowd that is eager to exhale and celebrate “My country is back,” to downplay Bannon’s pardon. While I am glad to see Trump leave the White House, the white supremacist patriarchy he greenlit from the highest office in the land will not suddenly surrender and pack their Glocks, nor will they run out of “bitches” and “cunts” to target.   

Trump was not an aberration. He was the fruition of white supremacy, misogyny, Christian fundamentalism, militarism and authoritarianism. And Steve Bannon is the gardener tasked with pruning and cross-pollinating the poisonous blossoms.

Those who have been the least affected by Trump’s time in office and yet were the ones quickest to lament “We are better than this,” were the ones for whom white nationalist Steve Bannon was a suitable headline speaker at their festivals and conferences. 

Steve Bannon is a dangerous, right-wing ideologue but for white liberals he was clickbait in motion and the driver of “debate.” For those of us who are Muslim, Black or of colour, women, Jewish, and all the other identities that Bannon’s fascism threatens - such “debate” is a privilege we cannot afford. Our lives are at stake. 

Trump was not an aberration. He was the fruition of white supremacy, misogyny, Christian fundamentalism, militarism and authoritarianism. And Steve Bannon is the gardener tasked with pruning and cross-pollinating the poisonous blossoms.

You watch. The time has come. Women are gonna take charge of society…And they couldn’t juxtapose a better villain than Trump. He is the patriarch.

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Bannon, who was once charged with misdemeanor domestic violence, battery and dissuading a witness, knows well where the battle lines are drawn. He is enamoured of the word “war” so let’s be clear what he thinks that war is: it is feminism versus white supremacist patriarchy. He has said so.

While watching the Golden Globes in January 2018 with Bloomberg Businessweek national correspondent Josh Green, Bannon was enraged at the parade of actors and activists dressed in black for the TimesUp and MeToo movements. After Oprah Winfrey delivered a stirring speech about the importance of MeToo, Bannon was apoplectic, Green writes in an updated edition of his book about the relationship between Trump and Bannon.

“You watch. The time has come. Women are gonna take charge of society,” Bannon said, according to Green. “And they couldn’t juxtapose a better villain than Trump. He is the patriarch. This is a definitional moment in the culture. It’ll never be the same going forward.”

That’s right Steve, it will never be the same going forward and we have you and all white supremacist patriarchal fucks in our sight.

Trump might have pardoned Bannon, but we must never pardon white supremacist patriarchy. If you think the era of Trump and Bannon is over, they want you to know it is just beginning. 

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Mona Eltahawy is a feminist author, commentator and disruptor of patriarchy. Her first book Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution (2015) targeted patriarchy in the Middle East and North Africa and her second The Seven Necessary Sins For Women and Girls (2019) took her disruption worldwide. Her commentary has appeared in media around the world and she makes video essays and writes a newsletter as FEMINIST GIANT.  

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