Stephen Miller says he is "profoundly outraged" by AOC's "concentration camp" remarks

Stephen Miller attacked AOC and defended President Trump during a recent appearance on "Fox News Sunday"

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published July 21, 2019 2:00PM (EDT)

Stephen Miller (AP/Andrew Harnik)
Stephen Miller (AP/Andrew Harnik)

Stephen Miller, who serves as a senior advisor for policy for President Donald Trump, attacked Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., by saying he was "outraged" by her referring to America's migrant detention facilities as "concentration camps."

"I'm a Jew. As a Jew, as an American Jew, I am profoundly outraged by the comments from Ocasio-Cortez," Miller told anchor Chris Wallace on Sunday. "It is a historical smear, it is a sinful comment, it minimizes the death of 6 million of my Jewish brothers and sisters, it minimizes their suffering, and it paints every patriotic law enforcement officer as a war criminal. And those are the comments, Chris, that we need to be focusing on."

Last month Ocasio-Cortez released a video on Instagram Live in which she said that "the United States is running concentration camps on our southern border, and that is exactly what they are. They are concentration camps, and if that doesn’t bother you . . . I want to talk to the people that are concerned enough with humanity to say that we should not ⁠— that ‘never again’ means something. And that the fact that concentration camps are now an institutionalized practice in the ‘Home of the Free’ is extraordinarily disturbing, and we need to do something about it."

Miller's comments were made in the context of a broader conversation about Trump's racist tweets and his campaign audience's subsequent racist chants about Ocasio-Cortez and three of her Democratic colleagues — Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. Miller defended the president on both counts.

"With the 'send her back' chant, the president was clear that he disagreed with it," Miller told Wallace, referring to a chant directed at Omar in a recent political rally.

"He was clear after the fact," Wallace interjected. "He let it go on for 13 seconds and it was only when the chant diminished that he started talking again." After some brief cross-talk between Miller and Wallace, the host added that "he said nothing there or in his tweet after the rally that indicated any concern about the chant."

Miller replied, "But I want to get the core issue. The president was clear that he said he disagreed with that tweet. But the core issue 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 DC and their allies in many quarters of the media."

The senior adviser then mentioned quotes from various Omar speeches that he claimed were insensitive to the victims of the September 11th terrorist attacks or insulting to America's troops. Miller also claimed that Ocasio-Cortez referred to America as "garbage" in a speech that criticized the health care policy status quo, with Wallace correcting him during their exchange.

"But she's talking about policy. She's not talking about the country and the people. Is garbage such a horrible world?" Wallace asked.

"She's saying that America, in her view right now, is garbage," Miller replied. After that Wallace put up a 2014 tweet from Trump in which he claimed that everything President Barack Obama touches "turns to garbage," to which Miller replied that "throughout this interview, Chris, you're continuing to conflate Donald Trump's criticisms of President Obama versus AOC's deep and systemic criticisms of the country itself."

He added, "These four congresswomen detest America as it exists, as it is currently constructed. They want to tear down the structure of our country. They want it to be a socialist, open borders country. If you, as Donald Trump says, want to destroy America with open borders, you cannot say you love your country."

On other occasions during the interview Wallace fact-checked Miller. When Miller claimed that Trump's critics play the race card, Wallace pointed to Trump's "birther" conspiracy theories against Obama, spurious claims about high crime rates from undocumented Mexican immigrants and the Muslim immigration ban.

The larger issue which brought Miller to Wallace's show was the fact that Trump tweeted last week that it the four congresswomen should "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how it is done. These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough. I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!" Later the president remained silent while audience members at one of his rallies chanted "send her back" about Omar.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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