As we fall into this hellish loop of debating whether or not it’s okay to make White House officials uncomfortable for targeting and abusing immigrant families, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that the arbiters of civility have no idea what the word even means.
During a CNN segment on Monday, reporter Kate Bolduan cut off David Leopold, an immigration attorney, when he called Stephen Miller a “white nationalist.” Bolduan questioned whether Leopold wanted to use that word, given the fact that it might be *shudders* uncivil:
Leopold: I have no doubt that this administration, Donald Trump, who’s advised by a white nationalist, Stephen Miller, in the White House—
Bolduan: I don’t know if you want to go as far as to, I mean, let’s not, I just did an entire segment about civility here, I don’t know if you want to call Stephen Miller a white nationalist.
Leopold: It’s not an uncivil thing, I would argue that it’s a fact, but okay.
Bolduan: Honestly, I have not seen that, where is the fact on that?
White nationalism is an ideology. Calling someone a white nationalist—whether or not they like being called that—when they are pushing for and implementing white nationalist policy is a factual statement. As Slate’s Jamelle Bouie points out, it’s not an insult; masking it as one enables racists who can cut off their critics for being rude without having to grapple with any of the actual substance of what they’re doing.
There is plenty of evidence that Stephen Miller, the architect of Donald Trump’s hard-line racist immigration policies, is a white nationalist. He crafted Trump’s Muslim ban. His thumbprint is smeared all over the administration’s family separation policy, the point of which is to tear immigrant families apart and deter others from entering the country. Miller reportedly laughed during a meeting when Trump made up names for immigrants and described imaginary crimes they might have committed. He has pushed for some of the harshest overhauls of our immigration system, including cutting legal immigration by half over the next decade. A White House aide recently told Vanity Fair Miller “actually enjoys” seeing pictures of children detained at the border: “He’s Waffen-SS,” the person said.
These are all policies and attitudes that seek to preserve the whiteness of our country. Truly the most courteous thing to do would be to call it like it is.