We continue on the journey of asking ourselves what kind of country we want to be, as impeachment hearings continue to build the strongest case imaginable against Donald Trump, and his administration continues to do horrible things to the extensive list of people it considers “other.”
For the longest time, Trump’s draconian treatment of immigrants (especially POC seeking asylum) was associated with Stephen Miller, who is nicknamed by several in my Twitter circle, “Baby Goebbels”.
Last week, the Southern Poverty Law Center published the first in what will be a series of articles on Miller’s racist emails, which show a near obsession with all things white nationalist. The first article outlines the source material on which Miller based his anti-immigration policies that are associated with the Trump administration.
“The emails, which Miller sent to the conservative website Breitbart News in 2015 and 2016, showcase the extremist, anti-immigrant ideology that undergirds the policies he has helped create as an architect of Donald Trump’s presidency. These policies include reportedly setting arrest quotas for undocumented immigrants, an executive order effectively banning immigration from five Muslim-majority countries and a policy of family separation at refugee resettlement facilities that the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General said is causing “intense trauma” in children”.
The White House on Mr. Miller’s behalf, complained and whined that outing him as a white nationalist is an anti-Semitic attempt to disassociate him from his Jewish identity.
If nothing else, Stephen shatters the image that all Jews actually understand the consequences of holding the views that he espouses. There are some conservative Jews who question the Jewishness of those who are more liberal because they learned the lessons of history. And, there are some liberals who may be tempted to distance their Jewish identity from the likes of Stephen Miller. I want to, but I believe people are smart enough to know that Stephen Miller is not representative of most Jews, not even a minority. He is definitely not representative of Judaism, or for that matter any of the major religions and political philosophies.
He is, however, the reason why I firmly believe that someone’s background doesn’t always tell you who they are.
Miller is, without question, Jewish, and no one is denying that fact. But as his uncle, David Glossar, https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2018/08/13/Steven-miller-is-an-immigration-hypocrite-i-know-because-im-his-uncle-219351 once said,
I shudder at the thought of what would have become of the Glossers had the same policies Steven so coolly espouses— the travel ban, the radical decrease in refugees, the separation of children from their parents, and even talk of limiting citizenship for legal immigrants — been in effect when Wolf-Leib made his desperate bid for freedom. The Glossers came to the U.S. just a few years before the fear and prejudice of the “America first” nativists of the day closed U.S. borders to Jewish refugees. Had Wolf-Leib waited, his family likely would have been murdered by the Nazis along with all but seven of the 2,000 Jews who remained in Antopol. I would encourage Steven to ask himself if the chanting, torch-bearing Nazis of Charlottesville, whose support his boss seems to court so cavalierly, do not envision a similar fate for him.
His views shame his family, be it his Jewish biological family or his Jewish religious family. It isn’t merely a matter of intolerance for different ideas. It is a matter of knowing that the ideas Miller espouses envision a world without Jews, all Jews, including Stephen Miller. Both families have a right to distance themselves from Miller’s views, which can only be called repugnant, immoral, inhumane and consistent with the goals of someone who can’t succeed and blames everyone except himself.
Anyone with a heart and a pulse can imagine the pain that Stephen Miller’s family lives with every day, as they watch the horrific things Trump and his administration are doing to immigrants – right down to the conditions in their for-profit concentration camps. But none of us actually experiences the pain of knowing that a member of your family is personally responsible for these policies, for the life-long trauma too many children will live with because of those policies or the fact that people have died.
If I had my way, Miller along with every member of the Trump family would be forced to experience the conditions they impose on migrant children who did nothing more than be born to parents who wanted a better life for them than life dodging the violence of gangs and corrupt governments.
If anything, one would think that knowing his own history, Miller would have empathy for people who are as desperate as his ancestors were. But he, like Donald Trump, is the sort of person who has so much empathy for themselves there isn’t any left for anyone else.
It’s a mystery how these men got here. Both were educated, so it isn’t like they came by their primitive views about people in the world by virtue of ignorance. In Miller’s case, his ancestors escaped persecution, while Trump’s ancestors escaped poverty and the military.
On paper, these sound like the qualities of people who would sympathize with those for whom fate was less than kind and are seeking to make their own destiny. They had it all, and truth be told, they want for absolutely nothing.
Yet, they turned into selfish, narcissistic, cruel, inhumane and whiny spoiled brats. I can’t explain why that is. I can say, however, that Trump and Miller are case studies in why bad ideas can happen to anyone – regardless of their background, their access to knowledge, their socio-economic status and the political culture in which they live.
They represent the very reason paying attention to people’s ideas is far more important than assessing their pedigrees.
There will be a day when the two part company, most likely because Donald Trump will be jealous of the fact that Stephen Miller is receiving all the attention associated with Miller’s immigration policies. And let’s face it, we know these are Miller’s policies because he is the only one of the two with the discipline to sit down and write something more comprehensive than a tweet.
Of Trump’s many advisers that have come and gone who are not members of his family, Stephen Miller is the most senior and the one who behaves most like a shadow president, merely using Trump as a prop.
Trump is proving to be the puppet for all puppeteers, be they foreign or domestic. A word to any daring Republicans reading this: he really isn’t that hard to manipulate or dominate. Ask Stephen Miller, he’ll explain it to you.