Daily Dispatch 11/20/2019: Miller must go….
November 20, 2019
As most are now aware, a former Breitbart editor, who had coordinated messaging on immigration with Stephen Miller, leaked emails she exchanged with Miller to the Southern Poverty Law Center. From NBC:
The first batch of emails, released last week, included correspondence in which Miller pointed McHugh to white nationalist websites that have been categorized as hate groups by the SPLC, including the white supremacist websites VDare and American Renaissance.
VDare and American Renaissance repeatedly push the “great replacement” and “white genocide” conspiracy theory, which posits that a shadowy group is attempting to eliminate white majorities in the United States through immigration and encouraging mixed-race families.
More emails were released yesterday that further show the ways that Miller coordinated messaging with Breitbart while he was working with the Trump campaign.
The tight connection between Breitbart editor Steve Bannon, Jeff Sessions, and Stephen Miller – who previously served as a legislative aide in Sessions office – was discussed a couple of weeks ago in detail as part of a Frontline special on the evolution of Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy. The report discussed how Bannon, Sessions and Miller worked closely from 2014 on and were brought together by a clear desire to use immigration as a wedge issue to turn the GOP away from any compromise that could ease immigration restrictions. They saw this as a way to transform the GOP in electoral terms, though the commitment to white nationalism throughout their writing and talking on these subjects are clear enough. In 2016 Trump, in Bannon’s words, became their “imperfect vehicle” for that mission.
That Miller is particularly driven by a commitment to racist ideologies is thus not surprising. That a marginal, largely truth free e-zine like Breitbart could come to have such an influence on U.S. political thought – while pedaling such nonsense – should be surprising, but in the current age of “post-truth” news, social mediated clickbait and hyper-partisanship, it is not.
I fully support calls for Miller to step down. The policies he has pursued have been a human rights disaster and, whatever his personal motivations, warrant his removal from office. Immigration policy has long been a human rights disaster – and certainly the political justifications for the expansion of detention and criminalization over the last 20 years is hard to separate from nationalism. However, this administration has stood out for its cruelty (best exhibited in the purposeful separation of children from parents and extending child detention as a deterrent), its consistent attacks on authorized immigration, and for its unapologetic dismantling of refugee and asylum laws.
Miller has been uniquely responsible for the cruel tenor of this administration’s policies. He has worked behind the scenes to shape not just what the message is, a la Breitbart, but who the messengers are. Miller is generally credited with forcing the removal of officials considered too moderate and replacing them with immigration hardliners. Thus, Miller has shaped who the personnel at the Department of Homeland Security are and how they frame policy. The result is an unaccountable cabal of “acting” or “temporary” officials – none of whom have even been confirmed.
From the beginning of Trump’s administration a point we have returned to in various ways, is that even if the infrastructure Trump employs for his anti-immigration practices was in place already, the messaging he has used in an effort to legitimate its expansion has done great damage. This administration has employed irresponsible rhetoric that demonizes immigrants. It has purposefully blurred the line between authorized and unauthorized channels of immigration in order to curtail legal immigration. And, of course, Trump simply lies over and over again about dynamics at our border in order to rally support for the wall, jail asylum seekers, and tear families apart. Miller is the one largely responsible for all of this. That this messaging has always been shaded by white nationalism is well known. That it is not accidental, but purposeful, seems obvious as well, and now that seems irrefutable.
So, yes, Miller must resign or be forced to.
However, we are left to wonder how an outlet like Breitbart could facilitate the distortion of the political process in this country to such an extent. Miller will likely be forced out. Trump may be as well. But for such a marginal group to achieve this kind of electoral influence through the manipulation of information channels is a lesson others will take note of – and seek to replicate. That our political process has come to this point is the truly scary part to me.