Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.
While publicist Maria Sliwa attempts to mitigate the negative coverage surrounding Stephen Bannon, President-elect Donald Trump’s newly appointed chief adviser and the former head of the “alt-right” Breitbart News, one of the men she suggested could speak on Bannon’s behalf recently claimed that Japanese internment camps are Trump’s “precedent” for a Muslim registry.
A November 16 article from The Wrap explained that after Trump announced Bannon as a member of his administration, Bannon received “lots of bad press, some of it accusing him of racism, sexism and anti-Semitism,” and that Sliwa is working to make over his image (though she says she isn’t working for Bannon but has “a client who is”). While the funding behind the rehab campaign is unclear, the piece said Sliwa “sent out two emails to reporters offering interviews with two men available to talk about Bannon: U.S. Navy Seal (Ret.) Carl Higbie, and Breitbart Jerusalem bureau chief Aaron Klein.”
While members of the media were reading Sliwa’s pitch, Higbie was making his own news. On the November 16 edition of Fox News’ The Kelly File, Higbie justified Trump’s possible Muslim registry by suggesting that there is some “precedent” for it because the United States interned Japanese-Americans during World War II. Higbie continued, “Look, the president needs to protect America first, and if that means having people that are not protected under our Constitution have some sort of registry so we can understand, until we can identify the true threat and where it’s coming from, I support it.”
Backlash to the comments has already started. This morning, Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA) released a statement calling on Trump to “denounce the comments” and pointing out the dark history of Japanese-American internment:
“The imprisonment of thousands of Japanese-Americans during World War II, including my parents and grandparents, is widely understood to be one of the darkest chapters in American history. More than 100,000 Japanese-Americans were accused of no crimes and received no trial before being relocated, interned, and stripped of their possessions.”
In September, Higbie attempted to defend Trump’s attacks on former Miss Universe Alicia Machado — who the now-president-elect called “Miss Piggy” for gaining weight after she won the crown — by claiming that Trump was helping her by putting her through a “luxury exercise program.”