|Stephen Miller and Jeff Sessions|
What will it take for Alabama voters to finally grasp that former U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) is a racist who surrounds himself with like-minded staffers. That question comes to mind after revelations yesterday that Donald Trump adviser Stephen Miller, whose rise to power included a stint working for Sessions, engaged in extensive email exchanges with right-wing Breitbart News editors that reflect racist and white-nationalist views.
The story originated with the Hatewatch section of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), based in Montgomery, AL, and came roughly one week after Sessions announced he will try to regain his Senate seat in the 2020 election. It quickly spread to mainstream news sites, such as Newsweek, which carried the headline "LEAKED STEPHEN MILLER EMAILS TO BREITBART DIRECTED RACE, ANTI-IMMIGRANT NEWS COVERAGE":
Leaked emails from White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller from 2015-2016 reveal an obsession with white nationalism, the Confederacy and the denigration of black and Hispanic communities.
More than 900 private emails between Miller and Breitbart News were examined by the Southern Poverty Law Center's Hatewatch section, revealing that 80 percent of the messages pertained to race or immigration. The emails sent between March 2015 and June 2016 straddle Miller's time as an aide to then-Alabama Republican Senator Jeff Sessions and his later role on as a senior adviser for then-presidential candidate Donald Trump's campaign. Miller's emails tout eugenics and white nationalist conspiracy theories and offer news tips to Breitbart on how to cover immigration and amplify stories about black and Hispanic crime.
Katie McHugh, the former Breitbart editor who leaked the emails to Hatewatch, told the SPLC that "what Stephen Miller sent to me in those emails has become policy at the Trump administration." McHugh, who publicly renounced her alt-right ties and beliefs in an interview with Buzzfeed News, was fired from Breitbart in 2017 for an anti-Muslim tweet.
Miller's conversations with McHugh and the Breitbart editors show him suggesting story ideas as well as directing the right-wing publication on how to report anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim news narratives. The now-senior Trump administration adviser who has been instrumental in crafting the president's immigration policies delves into topics ranging from Central American refugees to Nazi literature.
The SPLC report, with the title "Stephen Miller’s Affinity for White Nationalism Revealed in Leaked Emails," shines light on the sources of Miller's extremist ideology:
In the run-up to the 2016 election, White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller promoted white nationalist literature, pushed racist immigration stories and obsessed over the loss of Confederate symbols after Dylann Roof’s murderous rampage, according to leaked emails reviewed by Hatewatch.
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.
In this, the first of what will be a series about those emails, Hatewatch exposes the racist source material that has influenced Miller’s visions of policy. That source material, as laid out in his emails to Breitbart, includes white nationalist websites, a “white genocide”-themed novel in which Indian men rape white women, xenophobic conspiracy theories and eugenics-era immigration laws that Adolf Hitler lauded in Mein Kampf.
Issues beyond race, immigration, and crime seem to hold little interest for Miller:
Hatewatch reviewed more than 900 previously private emails Miller sent to Breitbart editors from March 4, 2015, to June 27, 2016. Miller does not converse along a wide range of topics in the emails. His focus is strikingly narrow – more than 80 percent of the emails Hatewatch reviewed relate to or appear on threads relating to the subjects of race or immigration. Hatewatch made multiple attempts to reach the White House for a comment from Miller about the content of his emails but did not receive any reply.
Miller’s perspective on race and immigration across the emails is repetitious. When discussing crime, which he does scores of times, Miller focuses on offenses committed by nonwhites. On immigration, he touches solely on the perspective of severely limiting or ending nonwhite immigration to the United States. Hatewatch was unable to find any examples of Miller writing sympathetically or even in neutral tones about any person who is nonwhite or foreign-born.
Most of Miller's missives were sent with taxpayer-funded resources, while he worked for Jeff Sessions:
Miller used his government email address as an aide to then-Sen. Jeff Sessions in the emails Hatewatch reviewed. He sent the majority of the emails Hatewatch examined before he joined Trump’s campaign in January 2016 and while he was still working for Sessions. Miller also used a personal Hotmail.com address in the emails and did so both before and after he started working for Trump. Hatewatch confirmed the authenticity of Miller’s Hotmail.com address through an email sent from his government address in which he lists it as his future point of contact:
“I am excited to announce that I am beginning a new job as Senior Policy Advisor to presidential candidate Donald J. Trump,” Miller wrote from his government email on Jan. 26, 2016, to an undisclosed group of recipients. “Should you need to reach me, my personal email address is [redacted].”
How ugly was some of the material Miller shared via public resources? SPLC provides examples:
Miller sent a story from the white nationalist website VDARE to McHugh on Oct. 23, 2015, the emails show. White nationalist Peter Brimelow founded VDARE in 1999. The website traffics in the “white genocide” or “great replacement” myth, which suggests that nonwhite people are systematically and deliberately wiping white people off the planet.
McHugh started the email conversation by asking if Hurricane Patricia could drive refugees into the United States. The hurricane battered parts of Central America, Mexico and Texas, and the media heavily covered the storm. Miller replied to her by underscoring the possibility that Mexican survivors of the storm could be given temporary protected status (TPS), a George H.W. Bush-era policy that would enable them to live and work in the United States for a limited stay.
The VDARE story by Steve Sailer, an anti-immigration activist who traffics in discredited race science, focused on instances in which the United States offered refugees temporary protected status. The article was posted the same day Miller shared it with McHugh.
Here is another example of Miller's reading material:
Miller recommended in a Sept. 6, 2015, email that Breitbart write about The Camp of the Saints, a racist French novel by Jean Raspail. Notably, The Camp of the Saints is popular among white nationalists and neo-Nazis because of the degree to which it fictionalizes the “white genocide” or “great replacement” myth into a violent and sexualized story about refugees.
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.
Perhaps, Alabamians should ponder this thought: Stephen Miller sent most of these emails, on the government dime, while working for Jeff Sessions. And that's the same Jeff Sessions the U.S. Senate rejected for a federal judgeship in 1986 because of his racist statements.
The emails reveal Miller's fascination with Calvin Coolidge, who perhaps was America's most racist president, pre-Trump. Right-wing icon Ronald Reagan frequently cited Coolidge as his favorite president:
Miller refers to President Calvin Coolidge multiple times in emails to Breitbart. Coolidge signed the Immigration Act of 1924. The legislation was based on eugenics and severely limited immigration from certain parts of the world into the United States. White nationalists lionize Coolidge, in part for his remarks condemning race mixing.
“There are racial considerations too grave to be brushed aside for any sentimental reasons,” Coolidge wrote in a 1921 magazine article, as quoted on American Renaissance. “Biological laws tell us that certain divergent people will not mix or blend. … Quality of mind and body suggests that observance of ethnic law is as great a necessity to a nation as immigration law.”
In Mein Kampf, Hitler portrayed the U.S. law as a potential model for the Nazis in Germany. James Q. Whitman, the Ford Foundation professor of comparative and foreign law at Yale Law School, noted this detail in his book Hitler’s American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law.
“Absolutely, Hitler talks about the law in Mein Kampf,” Whitman told Hatewatch. “He suggests that the U.S. was the only country making the type of progress the Nazis were trying to establish.”
Miller brings up Coolidge on Aug. 4, 2015, in the context of halting all immigration to America. Garrett Murch, who also was an aide to Sessions, starts the conversation by emailing McHugh, Miller and three other Breitbart employees, including Hahn, to note something he heard on a right-wing talk radio show . . .
Another example of Miller mentioning Coolidge happens Sept. 13, 2015, when he criticizes Republican Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham for appearing too sympathetic to refugees.