White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller lashed out at Congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez Sunday, calling her characterization of U.S. detention facilities as concentration camps a “historical smear” and “sinful comment” that minimizes the suffering of victims of the Holocaust.
“I’m a Jew,” Miller said in his appearance on Fox News Sunday. “As a Jew, as an American Jew, I am profoundly outraged by the remarks by Ocasio-Cortez. It is a historical smear. It is a sinful comment. It minimizes the death of six million of my Jewish brothers and sisters. It minimizes their suffering. And it paints every patriotic law enforcement officer as a war criminal."
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Miller is known as an immigration reform hardliner. He was the architect of the so-called "Muslim ban" that blocked refugees from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the United States. He was also a chief proponent of the "zero tolerance" policy of separating parents who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border from their children. In April, the Washington Post reported that U.S. President Donald Trump told Miller that he was in charge of all immigration and border affairs.
Last month, Ocasio-Cortez both stated and tweeted several times that the U.S. government “has established concentration camps on the southern border of the United States for immigrants, where they are being brutalized with dehumanizing conditions and dying,” doubling down on her characterization in the face of criticism that she was trivializing the Holocaust.
Miller told the show’s host, Chris Wallace, that Ocasio-Cortez’s words were “the comments we need to be focusing on,” deflecting Wallace’s attempts to question him about President Trump’s tweet telling Ocasio-Cortez and the three other members of "the Squad" of freshman congresswomen – Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan – to “go back” to where they came from, and the chant of “send her back”, referring to Omar, at Trump’s North Carolina rally.
Trump, said Miller, “was clear” that he “disagreed” with the chant, despite the fact that video showed the president did not dispute or interrupt the chanting but let it continue for 13 seconds. Wallace said that Trump had done nothing, while presiding over the rally "that indicated any concern about the chant."
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Strongly defending the president against charges of racism, Miller said on the Fox program that "I fundamentally disagree with the view that if you criticize somebody and they happen to be a different color of skin, that happens to be a racial criticism."
"The core issue," he added, "is that all the people in that audience and millions of patriotic Americans all across this country are tired of being beat up, condescended to, looked down upon, talked down to by members of Congress on the left in Washington, D.C., and their allies in many corners of the media."
Miller has been the target of criticism from much of the organized Jewish community for his unswerving stand on immigration policy. Last year, 17 left-leaning groups called on the White House to fire him for his “extreme viewpoints and advocacy of racist policies."
He was denounced by his childhood rabbi last year for his "negativity, violence, malice and brutality” in a Rosh Hashana sermon, with the charge that his advancement of family separation at the border “set back the Jewish contribution to making the world spiritually whole."
Also last year, Miller’s uncle, David Glosser, wrote of their family’s Jewish immigrant heritage, and how their relatives fled oppression in Eastern Europe and found a haven in America.
“I have watched with dismay and increasing horror,” Glosser wrote, “as my nephew, an educated man who is well aware of his heritage, has become the architect of immigration policies that repudiate the very foundation of our family’s life in this country."
In April, Ilhan Omar tweeted that Miller is a “white nationalist,” and “the fact that he still has influence on policy and political appointments is an outrage.” She was, in turn, accused of “targeting” Miller as a Jew by Jewish Republican congressman Lee Zeldin.