Stephen Miller, the outspoken bigot who rose from Jeff Sessions’s Senate staff to become a key White House policymaker, has always been a hateful little troll, according to Vanity Fair writer William D. Cohen.
In fact, Cohen’s extensive profile makes Miller out to be an archetypal Donald Trump voter since adolescence: deliberately ignorant, aggressive in his inchoate rage, and prone to make up “alternative facts” whenever his false worldview is challenged.
One former high school classmate recalls a government class in which Miller attacked his opponents 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.”
“In 2002 no one had a smartphone to quickly verify it,” says Nick Silverman. “It was mostly met with eye-rolls or an unwillingness to continue to debate someone who had a casual relationship with truth.”
“I know this may come off as melodramatic, but Stephen’s views are very DANGEROUS,” Silberman wrote in a Facebook post. “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.”
Indeed, Miller’s entire academic career seems to have been spent provoking women and minorities. Jason Islas, a Latino friend who was at Miller’s Bar Mitzvah, says that “one day Miller telephoned him and told him he didn’t want to be friends anymore.”
Not content to just let their interactions fade as they moved from one school to another, Miller wanted to make a point. “He gave me a whole list of reasons why we couldn’t be friends and almost all of them were personal, but the one that stuck out was because of my Latino heritage,” Islas recalls. “It was the one that wasn’t directly personal. It was very strange.”
When Miller appeared at a at White House press conference this week to support legislation aimed at cutting legal immigration in half, he famously opined that “The New Colossus” poem does not define the Statue of Liberty because it was “added later.” In fact, Emma Lazarus wrote the poem in 1883 to raise money that brought the statue over from France.
More than a simple case of Miller inventing his own facts to mislead, it was a typical example of the way he has refused to acknowledge factual history. A classmate at Duke University says that Miller was lazy to the point of disrespect during a history class on the American Revolution.
“Just right away, he’d just walk in, put his head down, and go to sleep.” After giving Miller a few good-natured warnings, the professor kicked him out. “He’s got that sleepy-eyed, sloe-eyed look, but he’s just saying ‘Fuck you’ to the world,” she says.
Miller’s barking style and gruff voice, which have always annoyed people, seem to have derived from his obsessive childhood admiration for Star Trek captains. Of course, Gene Rodenberry’s universe projects exactly the kind of “cosmopolitan values” that Miller abhors, but all those strong female characters and diversity casting seem to have flown right over his head.
Silverman says that Miller has not changed since those days. “I can hear that kind of nationalistic, America-First American culture,” he tells Cohen. “That’s that same Stephen from junior year. He hasn’t gone anywhere. That’s still him.”
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