Yesterday’s dustup between presidential aide Stephen Miller and CNN’s Jim Acosta, which Scott wrote about here, has turned into one of the silliest kerfuffles in memory. (Video is at the link, a transcript of yesterday’s press briefing is here.) The idea that a poem somehow stands in the way of reforming our immigration system (the salient features of which, by the way, date only to 1965) is absurd. Yet the controversy continues.
Associated Press reporter Hillel Italie has stepped into the breach by smearing Miller in just about the most contemptible way possible. Italie’s article is headlined, “Miller comments on Lazarus poem echo far-right opinions.”
When senior White House aide Stephen Miller disputed the significance of Emma Lazarus’ poem on the Statue of Liberty, he wasn’t stating a new opinion.
Members of the far-right community, including such white supremacists as David Duke and Richard Spencer, have harshly criticized the poem and even used anti-Semitic language.
This is the lowest form of argument. You like cabbage? Hitler liked cabbage too! Apparently you can’t point out that a poem has nothing to do with immigration law without being just the same as David Duke.
“It’s offensive that such a beautiful, inspiring statue was ever associated with ugliness, weakness, and deformity,” Spencer tweeted in January, referring to such words by Lazarus as “wretched refuse.”
“The claim that America was to welcome ‘the wretched refuse of your teeming shore’ is a Jewish demand upon America, and not the original intention of the Statue of Liberty,” Duke wrote in 2012, noting that Lazarus was Jewish.
But of course, Stephen Miller didn’t say anything of the sort.
Lazarus’ words about the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free” have since been widely absorbed into American culture and helped make the statue synonymous with welcoming people from abroad.
Yeah, fine. But we still need an immigration policy, and the one that Congress adopted in 1965 was lousy and needs to be changed.
I wish I could say that Hillel’s smear is unworthy of the Associated Press, but the unfortunate reality is that smearing President Trump and members of his administration is the AP’s main project these days. Actual news reporting falls far down the priority list.
UPDATE: A reader points out that Miller is Jewish, a fact I hadn’t known which makes the AP’s effort to link him to anti-Semitism all the more ridiculous.