Steve Bannon

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon. AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File

It’s too bad the Citadel Republican Society didn’t move up its Patriot Dinner by a week.

Hosting the Grim Reaper on Halloween could have been yuge.

Instead, former White House strategist Steve Bannon is coming to the Holliday Alumni Center next week — and everyone is freaking out. To put it mildly.

The left is aghast because Bannon, regularly portrayed as Death on Saturday Night Live, is the poster boy of white nationalists and the tiki torch-toting "alt-right."

And Republicans have the vapors because some liberals have called Bannon a “racist bigot” — which is apparently the opposite of an oxymoron — and may protest outside their fancy dinner.

Everybody should just chill out.

First of all, Democrats need to remember that the First Amendment covers everyone — no matter how much you might detest their message. That’s the price of free speech.

The world isn’t going to end because Bannon hangs out with some star-struck cadets for a few hours.

But Republicans should consider the optics of all this. Bannon, after all, is the guy who pointedly posted an ode to the Confederate flag on his Breitbart website two weeks after the Emanuel AME Church massacre in 2015.

So they shouldn’t be surprised if a lot of people in Charleston are particularly offended by their choice of “special guest.”

Good for the goose

The hypocrisy here is deeper than water on the Crosstown during a rainstorm at high tide.

Eight months ago, some right-wingers actually wanted to cut state funding to the College of Charleston because a group there invited Bree Newsome to speak.

Newsome is the woman who climbed the Statehouse flagpole after Emanuel and tore down the Confederate flag. It was put back up, briefly, but the idea of a public school allowing a scofflaw to speak had those secession guys snow-flaking out.

Well, same stuff, different day.

State Rep. Wendell Gilliard, D-Charleston, spoke to school officials about this Thursday, which is just him doing his job. But, truth is, The Citadel didn’t invite Bannon. The Republican Society is a campus club funded by outside sources. So don't blame school president Lt. Gen. John Rosa or the Board of Visitors.

Fact is, it’s a pretty good bet not everyone behind Lesesne Gate is happy with this, since the college last week put out a statement about how the “views of Mr. Bannon, or individual members of the Citadel Republican Society, are not necessarily those of the entire Corps of Cadets, our students, faculty or staff."

You don’t say.

That’s probably because Bannon is a foul-mouthed, insult-hurling, far-right ideologue intent on making the GOP even more extreme. He uses derogatory terms for women, homosexuals and even people of faith. In his brief tenure at the White House, he accused one short-lived press secretary of doing something physically impossible.

Now he’s backing that nutty judge in Alabama running for the U.S. Senate. So, yeah, he’s a real classy guy.

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Can’t imagine why anyone would want to picket an appearance by him.

Season’s greetings

When Newsome spoke at the College of Charleston in February, the police had to cordon off an area for people who wanted to protest.

They may have to do that again, which is fine. Free speech and all.

Of course, the Republican Society probably realized it would get this reaction and welcomes the publicity. Which is a good reason to ignore it.

Any protest would likely just increase fundraising for the club and boost Bannon’s ego even more. And it won’t change anyone’s mind. So why bother?

Well, maybe some people here would like for Bannon to see just how much his views disgust them. That’s fine, too. Free speech works both ways.

If that happens, the Republicans should just keep their traps shut and let ‘em have at it. Because they do exactly the same thing.

And frankly, it sounds pretty ridiculous when right-wingers whine that the left is intolerant of their intolerance.

But that’s the way it is these days. ‘Tis the season for hypocrisy.

Reach Brian Hicks at bhicks@postandcourier.com.

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