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Weekend Read: The importance of documenting racism in the White House

Earlier this week, the SPLC’s Intelligence Project released the first two installments of an explosive four-part series examining more than 900 leaked emails between White House senior adviser Stephen Miller and an editor at the Breitbart News Network, a far-right website that its co-founder once dubbed the “platform for the alt-right.”

These emails provide a crucial – and quite alarming – look inside the mind of the aide who is widely considered the architect of this administration’s cruel immigration policies. Trump’s executive order banning immigration from five Muslim-majority countries, mandatory arrest quotas for immigration enforcement raids, and a policy of separating refugee families and caging children at the border all have Miller’s fingerprints on them. 

The emails, obtained by the SPLC from a former Breitbart editor, make clear that Miller is steeped in pseudo-intellectual racism and that his political motivation comes not from national security concerns but from a deep-seated white nationalist ideology.

Our report shows that in 2015 and 2016 – first as an aide to former Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions and then after he joined the Trump campaign – Miller played a key role in shaping Breitbart’s coverage of immigration issues as the presidential campaign progressed. 

Miller regularly promoted racist literature and propaganda from white nationalist websites such as American Renaissance, a self-styled think tank that publishes articles purporting to show the inferiority of black people, and VDare, which promotes the “white genocide” myth that has motived numerous acts of white supremacist terrorism in recent months.

He even prompted Breitbart to write an article referencing a wildly racist novel called The Camp of the Saints, a book beloved by white nationalists that depicts a Europe overtaken by brown-skinned migrants from India.

To those who have observed President Trump’s racism over the past four years, all of this may come as little surprise. After all, following the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville in 2017, Trump insisted there were “some very fine people” among the neo-Nazis who were marching and chanting “blood and soil” and “you will not replace us.” 

But we must guard against the normalization of this administration’s deviancy. For those who do not wish to repeat history – and those who demand transparency in our democracy – the documentation of Miller’s racism is significant. The fact is, Miller has in the past denied suggestions that he is close to white nationalists.

Raul Hinojosa-Ojeda, a UCLA associate professor who specializes in immigration studies, told our investigative reporter, Michael Edison Hayden, that the now-public emails “confirm [Miller] is deeply embedded in a cultural-nationalist, white nationalist worldview.”

Miller’s laundering of white nationalist propaganda is very much in keeping with this administration’s attempt to create a parallel reality – or a set of “alternative facts.”  Undoubtedly, it knit together a system of far-right supporters who not only parrot its “illusory truths” but actively shout down any attempt to refute them with verifiable facts.

In April, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D–Minn.) was attacked online when she tweeted “Stephen Miller is a white nationalist.” She wasn’t wrong, but she faced a venomous backlash from Trump loyalists.  

On Monday, after we released the first installment of our report, Omar took to Twitter again: “As I said earlier this year: Stephen Miller is a white nationalist. And now we have the emails to prove it. This type of racism and hatred has no place in our government. Miller needs to step down. Now.” 

Calls for resignation

Omar’s tweet was part of a groundswell of reaction as the story hit The Washington PostThe New York Times and many other publications.

Hillary Clinton tweeted on Wednesday: One of the president’s senior advisors is an avowed white supremacist.” 

For our part, we’re demanding once again the removal of a white supremacist from the halls of our government, just as we did when we called for Stephen Bannon’s ouster from the White House two years ago. 

Echoing that call are at least 75 members of Congress, including key leaders of several Congressional caucuses

“We feel like it is up to us to point out the obvious – someone who writes, talks, and governs like a white nationalist is in fact a white nationalist,” said a joint statement by the Hispanic, Progressive, Black and Pacific American caucuses. “Stephen Miller is a white nationalist and he has no business serving in the White House.”

We earlier reported on Miller in conjunction with Bannon, it was in conjunction with Bannon’s efforts on the Muslim ban. Soon after, we highlighted his relationship with Richard Spencer, an architect of the alt-right and a key organizer in the deadly 2017 “Unite the Right” rally. 

“I knew him very well when I was at Duke,” Spencer said. “But I am kind of glad no one’s talked about this because I don’t want to harm Trump.”

At the time of this writing, the administration’s only comment on Miller’s emails was to deflect questions and attempt to smear the SPLC. Miller has not spoken about his documented use of racist materials or his relationship with other extremists. 

Those who enable the likes of Miller and help implement his policies will have to grapple with the catastrophic damage their bigotry has wrought – including the increase in anti-Latino hate crimes and deadly violence aimed at immigrants.

This year alone, nearly 70,000 migrant children have been held custody by the U.S. government. There’s no doubt they will be seriously traumatized.

We cannot stand idle while others attempt to codify racism. We must demand better.