The White House seems to be divided amid the increasing public outrage over separating children from their guardians at the border, reports the New York Times. Although the White House had hinted that it would go down that path last year, President Donald Trump ended up backtracking. Like his predecessors, the idea of ripping crying children from the arms of their parents simply seemed too cruel, nevermind politically dangerous. But some in the administration, most notably senior policy adviser Stephen Miller continued to push the idea. Now Miller has emerged as one of the staunch defenders of the controversial move.
Who is Stephen Miller? I stayed silent back then. But, for whatever it's worth, I sure as fuck won't now. By Nick Silverman, Santa Monica High School ‘03 classmate of Stephen Miller. Originally posted as personal FB status and republished by Being Liberal on February 17th, 2017 with the author’s permission.
I've spoken at length on Twitter about my High School classmate Stephen Miller, not so much on Facebook because many of my fellow Santa Monica Alumni have already done so. But with his rise to notoriety I feel like I have an obligation to speak on MY memories of Miller, even if it only just emboldens what others have said and written already, (and much more passionately and eloquently. If interested I can point you their direction.)
His words became Mr. Trump’s — “We’re going to build that wall, and we’re going to build it out of love,” Mr. Miller often said. “Steve is a true believer in every sense of the word, not just in this message of economic populism but in President Trump as a leader,” said Jason Miller, who worked with him in the Trump campaign and is not related. “**\*Steve’s fiercely loyal and has a better understanding of the president’s vision than almost anyone.”| ["Stephen Miller Is a ‘True Believer’ Behind Core Trump Policies"](https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/11/us/politics/stephen-miller-donald-trump-adviser.html) The New York Times*
I don't think I realized how hateful Stephen's views back then were, mostly because I didn't think anyone could really take him seriously. I mean who defends Andrew Jackson and the Trail of Tears? But here we are, and Stephen's right of right views not only have gotten him a place in the White House and the President's ears, but he's actually DRAFTING policy.I thought Stephen was just contrarian, needing to create dissent and conflict at every turn. Parts of me still believe if Stephen grew up in a conservative town of West Texas, he'd be a hemp farming socialist, strapping himself to a redwood somewhere.I know this may come off as melodramatic, but Stephen's views are very DANGEROUS.
Do not take these anecdotes or stories about him lightly. They sound like exaggerations and embellishments. They are not. He is an extremist. He has been radicalized. Many have theorized how, a kid from Santa Monica California, could turn into a political figure whose policies so far right that Mussolini would be like---"Yeesh, lets tone it down a little here." I don't know why he got like this, whether it was from reading some Wayne LaPierre book or listening to too much conservative talk shows (Miller was a regular contributor even in High School, delighted to share his liberal High School's backwards policies w Larry Elder)- I don't particularly care at this point.Much of my take on Stephen has been formed by views he's shared as a teenager, so you may think it's unfair to judge him based on my contact with him at that age. After all, I've certainly changed a lot since then. But reading his writing at Duke, and seeing who he has aligned himself with working with Jeff Sessions and now in this Administration, I have no reason to believe he's softened on any of those issues.
He believes multiculturalism is a weakness, that when we celebrate our differences we are ignoring our "American culture" (what that is, exactly, still baffles me. Football and corn dogs?). He felt that reading the morning announcements in Spanish and English was an embarrassment. And that catering to a bilingual education was part of the reason, Stephen felt, that we didn't have more Latino students in honors classes. He hated the idea that we had culture clubs like the Black Student Union or Latino Heritage club. He felt stuff like that divided us and detracted from the notion that we were all one culture-- American. He didn't like someone from El Salvador celebrating their homeland, or someone from Vietnam bringing in food from their country of origin. He wanted everyone to celebrate one culture. One country. At 16, Stephen was an extreme nationalist.
He would often get in arguments in our Government class, bullying the opposition with unverifiable statistics and figures, baseless claims launched with his articulate bravado. He would just bludgeon you with evidence he pulled from thin air, gun death numbers or immigration statistics that were usually false or gross exaggerations. And in 2002, no one had a smart phone to quickly verify it. It was mostly met with eye rolls or an unwillingness to continue to debate someone who had a casual relationship with truth. It's no surprise really, that he found such a foothold with a President who believes honesty to be nothing more than a suggested guideline.
Stephen and I went to Boys State together as HS Juniors. We went to Sacramento for a week and visited the capital and participated in mock government, where students from all over California were encouraged to take part in an example of political process. You could run for Mayor (head of your building), city council, governor, whatever. (I spent most of my time playing flag football and ping pong). Boys State is a Conservative-leaning institution sponsored by the American Legion. I imagine Stephen felt he would be right at home. But even here, among his seemingly ideological allies, he was ostracized. After being voted out of the mock city council, Miller threw a tantrum, flipping over a table and shouting "You cant do this to me!!!"
As I think back on Miller, I find myself grappling with regret. I never opposed him on anything he said. I just kind of remained silent. My own political stance not yet sturdy, I just brushed him off as an attention seeker. Just trying to stir the pot. Basically harmless. I did not agree with Stephen's view of the world, but I didn't see a need to check him, to be drawn into his endless debates where I would be on uneven ground. Beaten into submission with his statistics and rhetoric that I was not able to contend with. We'd talk about movies or TV or whatever, small talk, and I'd mostly just get out of his way. I figured someone else, better equipped and knowledgeable would combat him. Maybe even set him straight.
I find my inaction back then troubling now, and something I'll probably think about for a while. I could have challenged him on some points, told him what he was saying was hateful and wrong and divisive. That he shouldn't use his own unhappiness and insecurities as fuel to attack those that are different. But I didn't. I doubt, that even if I did, it would've changed anything. We were not close. And I don't think he valued my opinion very much. I venture he probably felt that way about a lot of students.What i find most disturbing about this whole thing, is that even with his extremist right wing views, he's found a place. He found a place at Duke. He found a place working with Senator Sessions. And now, he's found a place on the right hand side of the most powerful person on the planet. That's what bothers me the most, that's he climbed this mountain by finding footholds along the way. People who harbored and even supported and encouraged his views. Views that have even scared those in the Republican Party.
I don't have any eloquent ending. Any profound metaphor or impassioned plea to get involved. I just want you to know that this is all real. Trump may not have any ideology beyond improving and enlarging his own legacy, but those behind him, like **Bannon and Miller, are not to be taken lightly.
Stephen's built a career, a life, on the foundation of hate, fear, and a belief that anything less than 100% patriotism is a cancer needing to be removed.** He is ushering in a period of DANGEROUS NATIONALISM.