This op-ed was originally published in Newsweek
Sheila Katz and Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz
History tells us that we cannot ignore the insidious cruelty of white supremacist ideology. It grows from whispers to proud proclamations, then is distilled into policy. Ultimately, white supremacy costs innocent lives. It is a threat that lurks just below the surface of modern society and must be exposed at every opportunity.
This week, the House and the Senate created such an opportunity by introducing resolutions condemning Stephen Miller and calling for his resignation. This is an important step in recognizing and rejecting Mr. Miller’s contributions toward various hateful and exclusionary Trump Administration policies, particularly those targeting vulnerable migrant children. However, these resolutions do not have the force of law. In order to hold Mr. Miller accountable, Congress must hold hearings that would reveal the glaring disparity between those values we embrace as a nation of immigrants and the values that Mr. Miller draws from to advise the President.
We know from conversations with constituents in Florida and National Council of Jewish Women advocates across the country that further confirmation of policies rooted in white supremacy and racism would lead the American people to reject Mr. Miller’s reprehensible approach and demand he be ejected from his White House position of influence.
Our experiences in public service and advocacy are informed by our Jewish faith, and it is from this place that we are most disturbed by Mr. Miller’s dangerous and well-documented embrace of white supremacist arguments. Our Jewish ancestors, just like his Jewish ancestors, were targeted by the same “great replacement” theory being weaponized against immigrants and Muslims. Mr. Miller has, for example, spearheaded all iterations of the ban on immigrants coming from primarily Muslim countries, which continues to tear families apart, a theme in many of his policies.
Ultimately, whether crowds of young angry men are emboldened by these types of inhumane policy changes to chant “Jews will not replace us” (like we saw in Charlottesville’s 2017 Unite the Right rally that lead to Heather Heyer’s tragic murder), the answer has to be solidarity within and across our communities. That is why we’ve worked with our colleagues in Congress and with our partners in faith communities to call for Stephen Miller to leave the White House. Americans from all different faith traditions are dismayed by the betrayal of our values that Mr. Miller’s presence in the White House represents, and we are ready to stand together to oppose and roll back the cruel policies he has implemented.
We have both seen, firsthand, the toll that Mr. Miller’s immigration policies have taken on people who came to our borders seeking asylum, a safe place to raise their children, and hope for a better future—the American dream. We’ve each spent time at migrant centers, in in a squalid, make-shift migrant refugee camps in Brownsville, Texas and Juarez, Mexico. We’ve heard the stories of women who are trapped by the “Remain in Mexico” policy, unable to go home because they or their children face intimidation, trafficking or death, and are blocked from entering the United States because Stephen Miller thinks they have not jumped through enough hoops. Let’s not forget, thousands of children face long-term health impacts and serious trauma after being separated from their parents when crossing the border. Mr. Miller can also be largely credited with this horror as part of his strategy to deter families from coming to the U.S.
House and Senate hearings would be crucial to expose how his ties to white supremacist ideology have influenced his work in the White House. The American people have a right to know if the soul of their nation is being tainted by poisonous views pulled from racist and neo-Nazi propaganda. This person has the ear of the President and has used that privileged position to try to redefine the American dream as something that is for whites only – inflicting untold damage on vulnerable groups along the way.
As Jews, we know what it is like to wait for the world to respond to the atrocities that take away the dignity and humanity of an entire group of people. We will not remain idle as people fleeing persecution are demonized. The real threat to America is Stephen Miller and all those who celebrate white supremacy. He must be stopped.