Stephen Miller is back in the limelight again. Recently, the Southern Poverty Law Center said it had hundreds of emails that Miller sent to a Breitbart News reporter where he talks about white nationalist ideas. Still further, twenty-five Democrat Senators called for Miller to be removed from his position by Donald Trump for his known connections to white nationalist groups. Now, it has been revealed by the now-former reporter at Breitbart that Miller had sent her hundreds of emails to encourage her to use their hateful rhetoric to support her anti-immigrant reporting.
So, what are we to make of a President who continues to allow this man, who is antithetical to what this country is supposed to represent, continue to shape immigration policies in the U.S.?
Of course, the white house says this is another smear campaign, and that at its heart it is antisemitic, being that Miller is Jewish. However, this is quite an odd counter coming from the Trump Administration.
My grandparents left the antisemitism and poverty of Eastern Europe in the early 1900s. Their villages in Poland and Russia were subjected to pogroms, which were the systematic destruction of their homes including murder, rape, setting their shtetls ablaze, and other tactics of fear that left them no choice but to take their chances by emigrating to America. As the rise of white nationalism is spawning the violence and hate against Latinx, other people of color, Jews, Muslims, and LGBTQ people, I am moved to reflect upon my take on Miller.
I am Jewish though not religious or particularly observant. Still, in my household with parents who were religious, social justice was a strong component of how we were raised. It is a very “Jewish” concept in that we have always stood by the oppressed, perhaps because we ourselves have been persecuted and oppressed throughout human history. Many Jews marched with the civil rights activists of the 1960s. Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman, young Jewish men who were part of what was known as the “Freedom Riders,” were viciously murdered by the KKK in 1964 for helping to register black-Americans to vote. Even today, Jews continue to be strong advocates for what is right and just.
I knew of the holocaust at an early age. I learned of extended family who were murdered in the concentration camps. I still vividly recall seeing the tattooed wrist of a high school friend’s mother, and understanding why her demeanor was often sad.
About a year ago Politico Magazine featured an article called, “Stephen Miller is an Immigration Hypocrite. I Know Because I’m His Uncle,” by David Glosser. I encourage you to search it up. In it he writes about his family’s ordeal with anti-Semitism and subsequent emigration from eastern Europe in the early 1900s by Miller’s great grandfather who earned enough money to send for his family. He also spells out that with the “America First” policy that refused to allow Jews to cross U.S. borders only a few years after his family’s arrival, were his family not allowed to come here they would have eventually been murdered by the Nazis who killed all but seven of the two-thousand residents of their small village.
Did he not learn of the persecution and hate of the Spanish Inquisition, of the pogroms, or the holocaust? Did he not, growing up in the Los Angeles area, ever encounter anyone as I did who had been in a concentration camp as was my friend’s mother on Long Island?
What makes his hateful tactics, and ultimately those of his boss, Donald Trump, so odious is the reminiscence to that of any government that uses oppression as a tool to heap scorn upon certain groups of people. One can simply read the reams of history that, as we are wont to remember, if not heeded will be doomed to be repeated.
Miller seems to have lost his way. His roots speak to many atrocities committed over the centuries of hate and violence perpetrated on the Jewish people over time. And yet, we once again, are learning of his own history of hate.
Beginning with the Muslim travel ban, to the more recent family separation at the border, and to the pending Supreme Court decision on DACA, the policies have embodied Miller’s life work of ridding the country of non-whites.
As a child the vileness of the Nazis were sown into my very soul. This history surely can’t have evaded Miller. His uncle eloquently prosecutes the case against his own nephew. His hateful policies are so antithetical to what it is that I was taught as a young person. The violence it is encouraging at an alarming rate can’t be denied. His influence on the policies of Trump’s world view are reverberating with a level of fear not seen in this country on such a massive scale in decades, or perhaps ever.
Democrats in congress are calling for his dismissal. It is time that we all wake up to the hate he is fomented, and join our elected officials in ridding the nation of this misguided and dangerous man.