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ICYMI: Adam Serwer Explains Why Stephen Miller’s Emails Matter

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“A small, dedicated ideological vanguard, with the right influence and connections, can steer the direction of the country.”

In a detailed article for the Atlantic, “Trump’s White-Nationalist Vanguard: The emails of a key presidential aide show an extremist ideology influencing policy in the White House,” Adam Serwer details the anti-immigrant, white nationalist rancor found within aide Stephen Miller’s leaked emails. The emails, leaked to the Southern Poverty Law Center, prove that Miller, who has helped to shape the Trump administration’s immigration policies, has used his position in the Trump campaign and later the White House to forcefully drive a white nationalist agenda.

Stephen miller’s liberal critics were right after all…The emails show Miller praising racist immigration restrictions from a century ago, while bitterly lamenting the law that repealed them.

Donald Trump’s defenders might be inclined to dismiss those views as irrelevant, as they have in the past. But if they want to have any chance of stifling the rise of the extreme right, they shouldn’t. There is a reason that a cadre of white nationalists and their fellow travelers descended on the nation’s capital in the aftermath of the 2016 election, seeking jobs in the Trump administration and right-wing media. A small, dedicated ideological vanguard, with the right influence and connections, can steer the direction of the country.

Serwer goes on to draw out moments in the Trump presidency when Miller’s white nationalist philosophy shaped Trump’s policies on immigration, including ending TPS, denying TPS to others, ending DACA, instituting the Muslim ban, and blocking asylum for those fleeing Central American violence.

Key excerpts from Serwer’s article follow below and can be read in full here:

Miller’s emails show one of the president’s closest aides, and the architect of many of his hard-line immigration policies, citing white-nationalist sources and pursuing the same goal they sought to realize: the restoration of immigration restrictions explicitly designed to keep America white. The most revealing exchanges involve Miller’s praise for 1920s immigration restrictions targeting Africans and Asians, as well as eastern and southern Europeans, and his frustration with the 1965 law that repealed them.

In a 2015 exchange, Miller praised Calvin Coolidge for “shutting down immigration.” As I wrote back in February, the immigration laws of the 1920s, which barred African and Asian immigration but also sought to reduce immigration of Europeans deemed to have inferior genetic stock, such as Italians and Jews, were rooted in racist pseudoscience positing that America’s success was the result of its citizens of “Nordic” genetic background

… In a later exchange, Miller attacked the 1965 Hart-Celler Act, which repealed the racist and anti-Semitic restrictions of the 1920s. His feedback helped shape a Breitbart article titled “Ted Kennedy’s Real Legacy: 50 Years of Ruinous Immigration Law,” which lamented the fact that “native-born whites are the only group expected to decline in both absolute numbers and fertility rates.” Miller himself wrote to praise McHugh’s work, telling her, “You’re the only writer in the country who published a piece even mentioning the law and what it did.”

That Miller himself possesses a Jewish background is no obstacle to his believing that the racist and anti-Semitic restrictions of the 1920s were a great achievement, and that the law that repealed them was a great tragedy. These comments shed a great deal of light on Miller’s motives in shaping administration policy.

For instance, in a 2015 exchange, Miller complained that Mexican survivors of Hurricane Patricia could be given temporary protected status, or TPS, which would have allowed them to stay and work in the United States. Shortly after taking office, Trump sought to end TPS for about 400,000 El Salvadorans, Hatians, and Hondurans in the U.S., those from nations the president has privately referred to as “shithole countries.” In September, he prevented Bahamians fleeing Hurricane Dorian from coming to the U.S. and being granted TPS, saying he was worried about “gang members” and “drug dealers.”

Miller was also at the forefront of constructing the Trump administration’s travel ban targeting Muslim countries; he helped devise the child-separation policy designed to deter Latin American immigrants; he worked to scuttle a deal with Democrats following Trump’s repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which prevented the deportation of young undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children; and he is trying to reduce the number of refugees being admitted to zero. The emails help explain Miller’s zeal.

… Having adopted the premises but not the rhetoric of the racist right, mainstream conservatives now find themselves besieged by white nationalists wielding the same ideas in more explicit language. When liberals warned that conservatism had been infected by racism and nativism, conservative writers insisted that liberals were claiming racism in bad faith; that describing things as racist simply made people more racist; that accurately labeling actions as racist was an attempt to stifle debate; that, in fact, white people were the true victims of racism. Now mainstream conservatives face those same arguments from a resurgent white-nationalist movement, which deploys this same logic against them as they weakly try to respond with anti-racist rhetoric they have spent the past four years training their audiences to dismiss with a sneer.