Many of President Donald Trump’s outspoken critics have cited Chief Advisor Steve Bannon as the source of what they call racist policies, most notably the controversy surrounding Trump’s executive order on travel and immigration, also known as the “Muslim ban.” However, disturbing reports are now coming out about Trump’s chief policy advisor, Stephen Miller, alleging a long history of racist beliefs and that Miller was influenced by alt-right leader Richard Spencer while they were at Duke University.
This has lead to speculation that Miller, rather than Bannon, is the real mastermind behind the immigration executive order that incited massive protests and an ongoing court battle. President Trump’s executive order banning refugees, visa holders, and even those with green cards from seven countries was struck down by a federal court as being unconstitutional, a ruling that was upheld in federal appeals court.
Former Classmates Claim Miller Is Racist
The NY Daily News detailed the history of documented racist remarks, going back as far as middle school for Miller, who is now a 31-year-old graduate of Duke University. Former classmate Jason Islas claims that Miller turned against him in middle school, telling him point blank it was because of race.
“I can’t be your friend anymore because you are Latino.”
Univision uncovered documents from Miller’s time at Santa Monica high school where Miller complained about LGBT students, Latino classmates, and rights for Muslim students, expressing disbelief when the school had a Muslim guest speaker. That was the time that classmates say Miller ended all of his relationships with students who weren’t white. Classmates also accuse Miller of making fun of immigrant students with poor English, particularly Asian and Latino classmates.
According to the LA Times, Oscar de la Torre, a Santa Monica school board member who was a counselor during Miller’s time at Santa Monica High, saw Miller’s extreme right-wing tendencies coming to fruition during his teen years there, including a denial that racism and oppression even exist.
“Early on in life, he was on a crusade against liberalism and liberals. He just didn’t buy it. He didn’t believe the oppression existed. This guy is 17 years old, and it’s like listening to someone who’s 70 years old — in the 1930s.”
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Miller Controversies Continue At Duke Where He Meets Alt-Right’s Richard Spencer
The News & Observer reports that Miller’s controversial stances on many issues continued into his college years at Duke University, where he was often at odds with school officials, including the notorious Duke lacrosse team rape case. John Burness, Duke’s former senior vice president of public affairs and government relations, didn’t mince words when discussing Miller’s time at Duke.
“He’s the most sanctimonious student I think I ever encountered. He seemed to be absolutely sure of his own views and the correctness of them, and seemed to assume that if you were in disagreement with him, there was something malevolent or stupid about your thinking. Incredibly intolerant.”
What may be more disturbing to critics of President Trump’s administration are Miller’s ties to alt–right leader Richard Spencer, who founded the white supremacist organization, the National Policy Institute. The two met in college through the Duke Conservative Union and both worked together on an immigration policy debate while at Duke. While Miller and Spencer try to downplay the importance of their meeting these days — with Miller claiming he completely rejects Spencer’s ideas — Spencer had a slightly different story last month for The Daily Beast, where he implied that he had been a significant influence to Miller.
“I spent a lot of time with him at Duke… I hope I expanded his thinking… but I think he probably would be where he is today without me as well.”
Before his graduation from Duke, Miller founded his own organization, the Terrorism Awareness Project, which claimed its mission was the education of students about Islamic terror threats. The group tried to run ads in college newspapers titled “What Americans Need to Know About Jihad,” but many of the college newspapers refused to run the ads.
Miller’s Political Rise In The Extreme Right
After Duke, Miller worked on Capitol Hill for Representative Michele Bachmann (R-Minnesota) before moving to a new team, working for former Senator Jeff Sessions, who has just been confirmed as the new U.S. Attorney General. As communications director for Sessions, Miller was hailed as instrumental in defeating a bipartisan immigration reform bill in 2013.
With Chief Advisor Steve Bannon facing accusations of being a white supremacist, the Trump administration is finally putting Miller in the spotlight, including appearances on Sunday morning political talk shows and CBS This Morning on Monday to defend Trump’s immigration ban.
The meteoric rise to political power for someone so young and so politically extreme is causing concern even for conservative pundits, such as MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, a Republican and an early supporter of Donald Trump.
“You’ve got a very young person in the White House on a power trip, thinking that you can just write executive orders and tell all of your cabinet agencies to go to hell.”
[Featured Image by Andrew Harrer/Getty Images]