On April 9, CNN host Brianna Keilar blamed Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and her tweet that characterized President Donald Trump’s senior policy adviser Stephen Miller as a “white nationalist” for making immigration “discussions more difficult.” But Keilar failed to explore the evidence of Miller’s nativist record that merits such a label. As Eric Levitz wrote at New York:
Reasonable people can disagree about whether or not it is worth maintaining a semantic distinction between individuals who openly identify as white nationalists and those whose words and deeds betray an ideological commitment to maintaining the United States as a majority-white nation. But it is impossible to understand the Trump administration’s immigration policies without stipulating that it subscribes to a “soft-core” or reformist version of white nationalism.
We can’t look into Stephen Miller’s heart, or search X-rays of his body for signs of “racist bones.” But we do know that he has tried to ban Chinese students from American universities and pushed for the deportation of Vietnamese refugees who have been in the United States for decades — a policy with no national-security, economic, or assimilationist rationale. We also know that Miller reportedly told a colleague, “I would be happy if not a single refugee foot ever again touched American soil;” he informed a middle-school classmate that they couldn’t be friends anymore because of the classmate’s “Latino heritage.” And we know that he quoted Teddy Roosevelt in his high-school yearbook: “There can be no fifty-fifty Americanism in this country. There is room here for only 100 percent Americanism, only for those who are Americans and nothing else.”
Given all this, it seems both fair to describe Miller as a white nationalist and nearly impossible to ascribe a non-racist motivation to his political behavior.
In addition, Miller has enjoyed the images of children being separated from their parents because of Trump’s draconian immigration enforcement.
This is not the first time a CNN host has bristled at the lack of “civility” of calling Miller a white nationalist. Network hosts seem to find the white nationalist label more contemptible than Miller’s bigotry.
From the April 9 edition of CNN Right Now:
BRIANNA KEILAR (ANCHOR): I want to ask you, while I have you here, about something that one of your colleagues has said. [Rep.] Ilhan Omar was talking about presidential adviser Stephen Miller, who really is pulling the strings at the White House when it comes to immigration policy now. This is what she tweeted, she said, “Stephen Miller is a white nationalist. The fact that he still has influence on policy and political appointments is an outrage.” I just -- I wonder, do you share in that assessment that Stephen Miller is a white nationalist?
REP. TOM SUOZZI (D-NY): Well I don't know whether Stephen Miller is a white nationalist or not a white nationalist. I do know that his anti-immigrant rhetoric and his policies are wrong-headed, misguided, and they're bad, and they're hurtful. And we need to solve this problem related to immigration, which you and I have discussed before on this show, but we're not going to do it by having this harsh rhetoric.
KEILAR: But I want to ask you -- to that point, you said, we're not going to do it having this harsh rhetoric. Is it a problem that the congresswoman used that language. Does that make these discussions more difficult?
SUOZZI: I think that his policies make it more difficult and I think that that type of talk from her also makes it more difficult. We need to take the temperature down, we need to find common ground, we need to solve problems on very serious issues that affect real people's lives and try and make the country work better than it's currently working. And whether -- either side, using harsh rhetoric and not talking about solutions and common ground is hurtful to the country.