Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Two Guys Named Steve

You’re already familiar with Steve Bannon, the white supremacist who horned his way onto the National Security Council the way a party-crasher jumps the line at the buffet.  Now meet Stephen Miller, another top adviser to Trump who lied his way through the rounds on the Sunday talk show circuit and, among other things, claimed that “millions” of fraudulent votes were cast in the 2016 presidential election and sternly warned America that the president’s powers “will not be questioned.”

According to Univision, the guy has been a racist and a jerk since high school.

Stephen Miller and Jason Islas grew up in sunny southern California in the late 1990s, united by their passion for Star Trek. But Miller stopped talking to his friend as they prepared to jump from Lincoln Middle School to Santa Monica High School.

Miller only returned Islas’ phone calls at the end of the summer, to coldly explain the reason for his estrangement. “I can’t be your friend any more because you are Latino,” Islas remembers him saying.

Islas recalled that Miller mentioned other reasons, which he considered “childish.” But that was his first sign of the change Miller would undergo when he was 14 years old: a political radicalization that defines his life even now as a senior White House adviser with direct access to President Donald Trump.

Miller, now 31, and Stephen Bannon, former executive director of the populist Breitbart website, have been described as the main architects of Trump’s immigration policies.

Several reports identified Miller as the brains behind the controversial executive order that temporarily banned people from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States. With Bannon, he also wrote Trump’s aggressively nationalist inauguration speech and in July wrote a draft of Trump’s acceptance speech to the Republican presidential nominating convention.


Univision Noticias spoke with several classmates who said Miller had few friends, none of them non-white. They said he used to make fun of the children of Latino and Asian immigrants who did not speak English well.

Early on, Miller began to write opinion columns in conservative blogs, the local press and the high school’s own newspaper, The Samohi. He also contributed at times to the national radio show of Larry Elder, a conservative African American, and once invited him to speak at the school.

Displaying his hostility toward minorities, Miller complained to school administrators about announcements in Spanish and festivals that celebrated diversity.

In his third year at the school, the 16-year-old Miller wrote a letter to The Lookout, a local publication, about his negative impression of Hispanic students and the use of Spanish in the United States.

“When I entered Santa Monica High School in ninth grade, I noticed a number of students lacked basic English skills. There are usually very few, if any, Hispanic students in my honors classes, despite the large number of Hispanic students that attend our school,” Miller wrote.

“Even so, pursuant to district policy, all announcements are written in both Spanish and English. By providing a crutch now, we are preventing Spanish speakers from standing on their own,” he added. “As politically correct as this may be, it demeans the immigrant population as incompetent, and makes a mockery of the American ideal of personal accomplishment.”

In that article, Miller also complained about his school’s celebration of Cinco de Mayo, the existence of a gay club and a visit by a Muslim leader.

It’s one thing to be an obnoxious asshole in high school; it’s part of growing up.  But to bring it to the West Wing?  Well, in this White House, it’s a feature, not a bug.