Stephen Miller is a racist. That President Trump’s ghoulish policy advisor—the architect behind the administration’s travel ban, child separation crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border, and refugee reduction efforts—aligns with white supremacists is not new information, nor is it particularly difficult to conclude, considering Miller’s long history of antagonism against non-white people. So on its face, there’s a certain element of “no shit” in the Southern Poverty Law Center’s new series by Hatewatch, which exposes Miller’s leaked e-mails with Breitbart News editors prior to the 2016 election, and reveals his full embrace of white nationalism. But a less cynical read shows the full extent of how disturbing his actions have been, the way he has been funneling racist propaganda to news outlets and the president himself, shaping policy with the beliefs of the most draconian racist conspiracies. More alarming still is how much of the press and public has accepted this overt racism with a shrug, just another facet of the unorthodox Trump administration.
At first, it’s easy to compare this to recently leaked audio of white nationalist Richard Spencer shouting a litany of slurs following the 2017 Unite the Right rally. Spencer’s high pitched meltdown about “kikes” and the people his “ancestors fucking enslaved” merely confirmed what we already knew about Spencer, one of the best known racists in the country. But the Miller findings, conveyed by Hatewatch with the headline “Stephen Miller’s Affinity for White Nationalism Revealed in Leaked Emails,” are more disturbing than a simple illustration of fact.
Bombastic acts of racism like Spencer’s can be frightening, but there’s a different kind of terror lurking in the paranoid breathlessness with which Miller writes about mass migration and immigration. There’s the troll that gleefully calls you a nigger, and then there’s the troll that methodically goes to the archives to explain why you’re a nigger. The former is shocking but the insult eventually dulls: Its one-notedness overwhelms the sting, often unveiling itself as the work of an uncreative edgelord. The latter is far more chilling, the product of a true believer, the most frightening brand of idiot. These aren’t the types who will spam your Twitter account with a slur and racist memes for a laugh. Instead, they’re eager to share the credo at the heart of their racism. They’ll comb through primary sources supporting race science, cite dubious statistics about IQ and interracial violence. They’re convinced that their hate is based on sound, unwavering logic, not emotion, and disproving them is an exhausting feat: countering misinformation and contextless data points is like fighting with air.
Miller represents the latter.
According to former Breitbart editor Katie McHugh (who was fired from the organization in 2017 for posting anti-Muslim tweets), Miller told her to “draw information” from the white nationalist website American Renaissance. He even referred to the site with insider slang, AmRen, suggesting he was a regular visitor.
In September 2015, Miller was in correspondence with McHugh and former Breitbart edior Julia Hahn and about the “invasion” of immigrants and non-white students triggering a decline in SAT scores. Miller then says, “Also, you see the Pope saying west must, in effect, get rid of borders. Someone should point out the parallels to Camp of the Saints.” The Camp of the Saints is a racist French novel about so-called “white genocide,” complete with brown refugees raping white women and replacing the white race. It’s a cult classic among white nationalists and neo-Nazis.
The novel’s apocalyptic plot centers on a flotilla of Indian people who invade France, led by a nonwhite Indian-born antagonist referred to as the “turd eater” – a character who literally eats human feces. In one section, a white woman is raped to death by brown-skinned refugees. In another, a nationalist character shoots and kills a pro-refugee leftist over his support of race mixing. The white nationalist Social Contract Press plucked the 1973 book from relative obscurity and distributed it in the United States.
Hahn wrote a Breitbart story on Sept. 24, 2015, headlined “‘Camp of the Saints’ Seen Mirrored in Pope’s Message.” The article ran 18 days after Miller’s email on the same theme. Hahn is now an aide to Trump.
When Miller wasn’t waxing poetic about confederate monuments in the inbox of Brietbart writers, he was proselytizing about President Calvin Coolidge, whom most Americans know little about, but who is held in high esteem by white nationalists like Miller for Immigration Act of 1924, which prevented immigration from Asia and imposed severe quotas on immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe. Coolidge wanted to preserve American homogeneity. (The law was, appropriately, an inspiration to Adolf Hitler.)
Hatewatch documented several instances of Miller mentioning Coolidge in email correspondence. In response to a proposal that the United States should end immigration for several years, Miller said, “Like Coolidge did.” In another email, Miller sneers at the immigrant-welcoming poem The New Colossus, which was cast onto the Statue of Liberty in 1903. Miller wrote, “Indeed, two decades after poem was added, Coolidge shut down immigration. No one said he was violating the Statue of Liberty’s purpose.
And then, there’s this:
Miller also brings up Coolidge in the context of Immigrant Heritage Month on June 2, 2015. He sends a link from an MSNBC report about the start of the month:
Miller, June 2, 2015, 7:05 p.m. ET: This would seem a good opportunity to remind people about the heritage established by Calvin Coolidge, which covers four decades of the 20th century.
Miller’s comment about “four decades” refers to the time between the passage of the Immigration Act of 1924 and the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, or Hart-Celler Act, which abolished racial quota laws for immigration. Miller’s vision on immigration equates “heritage” with a time in which American laws were dictated by discredited race science.
This is just the beginning of an ongoing series which will undoubtedly uncover more of Miller’s affection for neo-Nazi websites and eugenicists. The White House will undoubtedly be asked to comment, and will likely continue to defend the indefensible. And Miller will continue to work behind the scenes, quietly attempting to influence the president, politicians, and right-wing journalists to march toward his vision of a whiter America. But as he continues his own work, we should continue ours: Keeping tabs on the ways Miller operates and taking seriously his fringe white supremacist influences. Desensitizing ourselves as we see, in real-time, Miller’s policy becoming absorbed into the highest reaches of power, is not a strength, it’s a weakness.
Read more of Hatewatch’s reporting here.