Donald Trump's Adviser Has Been Battling Multiculturalism Since High School

Stephen Miller has been railing against PC culture for half his life.
Stephen Miller, a senior policy adviser for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, often speaks before him at events.
Stephen Miller, a senior policy adviser for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, often speaks before him at events.
Paul Sancya/Associated Press

On Monday, Politico published a lengthy profile of Stephen Miller, the 30-year-old Senate staffer turned Donald Trump adviser who now revs up crowds for the presumptive Republican presidential nominee by railing against trade, immigration and political correctness.

It's a comprehensive look at Miller, from his early conservative rabble-rousing to his time as a top staffer for Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), the first senator to endorse Trump, to his role today -- which involves everything from warming up crowds to attending policy meetings to ordering Ubers. The piece, written by Julia Ioffe, is well worth the read to understand the mindset of a person who could very well be a top policy adviser to the next president of the United States.

What's striking about Miller is how far back his animus toward multiculturalism and political correctness -- particularly with regard to race and ethnicity -- actually goes. Miller has been pushing back against a multiculturalist society since he was 16, an age when most kids are more worried about passing their driver's test than about changing cultural norms.

The first target of Miller's political ire, at least in print, was Santa Monica High School, from which he graduated in 2003. The area, then as now, was liberal and had a large Latino community. Miller didn't like the school's leadership -- they said the Pledge of Allegiance too infrequently, praised the U.S. too little and allowed too much Spanish to be spoken, according to various columns he later wrote.

He didn't drop the issue even after he graduated. In 2005, when Miller was in college, he devoted most of a 1,600-word column at the conservative site FrontPage Magazine to attacking Oscar de la Torre, a member of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District's board. It's a broadside that de la Torre, a Democrat, hasn't forgotten.

"He was biased toward people of color. Anything that was about multiculturalism, he was against," de la Torre told The Huffington Post. "Anything that was about ethnic studies or promoting people of color in any positive way, this guy was against. So it's no surprise to me that he's working for Donald Trump."

Miller did not respond to a request for comment.

One of Miller's biggest complaints when writing and talking about his high school back then was its approach to ethnicity, race and class. At age 16, he lamented in a letter to the editor of a local news site that the school did "nothing for American holidays but everything for Mexican holidays." He also claimed that there were "very few, if any, Hispanic students" in his honors classes and that many students at the school lacked basic English skills (he did not specify a race). The school's policy of making announcements in both English and Spanish exacerbated the problem, he argued.

"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," Miller wrote then.

As a teen, Miller appeared repeatedly on the radio show of Larry Elder, a conservative commentator, and denounced what he called his high school's liberal culture run amok. He told Elder that liberal students punished classmates who took positions they deemed politically incorrect, and that teachers were biased against conservative students.

The school was "an institution not of learning, but of indoctrination," where one teacher had referred to the Mexican-American War as the "Northern-American invasion," Miller wrote after graduating.

A couple of years later, Miller weighed in again in his column focused on de la Torre. He accused de la Torre of bringing gang members to campus and nearly inciting a riot -- an allegation that the police made as well. (De la Torre, for his part, has said that he brought the men to speak out against gangs and that police had falsely accused one of them of ordering assaults.)

In that 2005 column, Miller also returned to his favorite theme, the ills of multiculturalism, which he said led to students thinking of themselves as "Mexican, or Honduran, or Guatemalan first, and American second."

Miller criticized the school for providing funding to Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán, or MEChA -- a Chicano group that, according to its own summary, was "founded on the principles of self-determination for the liberation of our people." Miller called it a "radical national Hispanic group that believes in racial superiority and returning the southwestern United States to Mexico to create a 'bronze nation,'" and told Elder the group advocated for a violent overthrow of the U.S.

Miller wasn't a fan of the Black Student Union either, or its plans to, as he put it, combat "black and Hispanic underachievement, violence, and racial tension."

"It is just more of the same, a declaration of institutional racism followed by extreme plans for re-education and multiculturalism," he wrote. "Its leftist illusions and destructiveness are self-evident, yet both the superintendent and the principal have agreed to work with the coalition and incorporate their ideas."

At Duke University, his profile grew. Another student active in conservative politics at the time said Miller was already connected among conservatives by the time he came to campus, but "sort of did his own thing" there at first. (The Duke alumnus, who asked not to be named, laughed when he heard that Miller is now working for the Trump campaign. "All I can say is I'm not surprised," he said.)

"He was sort of a conservative wunderkind in that respect," the Duke alumnus said. "Usually you don't come on campus already sort of guns blazing. But he was sort of like that."

Miller became a columnist for the Duke Chronicle, which in turn made him into something of a campus name. He criticized the "condescension" of being asked to write a birthday note for the school janitor. He accused writer Maya Angelou of "racial paranoia," and again warned of the evils of multiculturalism.

"The administration is so obsessed with multiculturalism (a.k.a. segregation) that they deem it necessary to include in freshman orientation a separate luncheon for black students," he wrote in September 2005, when he was a junior. "Call me a sentimental fool, but I agree with Martin Luther King Jr. and don’t think that we should divide people based on the color of their skin. But then again, social engineering is just so much fun -- ask any leftist."

Miller became president of Students for Academic Freedom, where he called for diversity in the faculty -- of the political kind, not the racial, religious or socioeconomic kind.

"All we're trying to do is to hold hiring practices to a certain standard and to hold the teaching to a certain standard, which would, by its very nature, lead to diversity, because diversity is a natural state of affairs," he told Duke Magazine at the time.

His highest-profile columns addressed the 2006 Duke lacrosse scandal, when a black woman working as an exotic dancer accused three white student-athletes of rape. Many students and faculty were quick to condemn the athletes, but Miller argued that potentially innocent people had been presumed guilty and unfairly treated as a result. He even went on CNN to discuss the issue with Nancy Grace.

Miller was eventually vindicated: Charges against the lacrosse players were dropped and North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper (D) said there had been a "tragic rush to accuse."

It took guts for Miller to speak up like he did ahead of the charges being dropped, said KC Johnson, a history professor at Brooklyn College who wrote a blog post at the time praising Miller for standing up for due process. Johnson, a Democrat who is no fan of Trump, said Miller deserves credit for that.

"The one thing that I always had a sense of with Stephen is that he was someone who was fearless, I guess in a good way, and who would be willing to make moves if he believed in it," Johnson told HuffPost. "Even if you could make a case [that] there was some career risk in doing it."

Miller's lacrosse columns were intensely focused on race. He wrote that the allegations had "provided a fantastic opportunity to advance a social agenda and to keep the distance between the paranoid delusions of widespread racism upon which so many of the careers and the lives of the activists have been built and the rather obvious reality that the overwhelming majority of whites in America are not racist."

He wrote another column about a fellow student calling him racist -- an accusation he called "grotesquely false and baseless" -- and said he told her that she was actually the one obsessed with race. He also argued that adopting "the outrageous assumption that conservatives, or wealthy white people or successful white people have it in for blacks and other minorities" did a great disservice to people of color.

After graduating from Duke, Miller went on to work for then-Reps. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and John Shadegg (R-Ariz.). He joined Sessions' team in 2009, where, the senator told HuffPost, "extraordinary was an understatement" for the work he did.

Some of that work involved long emails and phone calls to reporters about immigration and trade -- particularly regarding potential job losses, criminal undocumented immigrants and an increase in the number of Muslims in the country.

One Democratic aide who worked with him occasionally said Miller was always perfectly nice and friendly until the subject of immigration came up. Then the tone would shift and become more tense. Immigration, it seems, never stopped being a touchy subject for him.

"It was like one of his trigger words," the aide said.

Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.

Go To Homepage

Before You Go

Ben Carson

Potential Trump VP Picks

Popular in the Community