(JTA) — Stephen Miller, who serves as Trump’s senior adviser for policy, is reportedly the primary author of a speech on Islam that the president will deliver in Saudia Arabia.
Trump will be giving the speech, which will address radical Islam, in front of representatives of 50 Muslim countries as part of his first overseas trip. He is arriving in Saudi Arabia on Friday, and will also visit Israel and the Vatican on the trip, which is supposed to send a message of unity among Islam, Christianity and Judaism in the fight against terrorism.
The news that Trump’s Jewish policy adviser, who grew up in a liberal circles in Santa Monica but showed a fondness for conservative ideals at an early age, is behind the Islam speech isn’t without controversy. Here’s why Trump’s pick of Miller to write the address is not exactly parve:
Miller helped draft Trump’s controversial “Muslim ban.”
Miller has been called “one of the chief architects” behind the executive order, which temporarily banned citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries and indefinitely banned Syrian refugees from entering the United States. The original executive order also instructed the U.S. to prioritize Christian refugees from the Middle East over their Muslim counterparts and was widely criticized by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle as well as civil rights group such as the American Civil Liberties Union, which said the order discriminated against Muslims. Federal judges blocked the order from being implemented, and Trump issued a second, slightly revised order, which was also blocked.”
Miller has longstanding ties to David Horowitz, whose think tank was labeled a “driving force of the anti-Muslim” movement.
David Horowitz founded the David Horowitz Freedom Center, a right-wing think tank that “combats the efforts of the radical left and its Islamist allies to destroy American values and disarm this country as it attempts to defend itself in a time of terror.” The Southern Poverty Law Center calls Horowitz “a driving force of the anti-Muslim” movement and labels his think tank an anti-Muslim hate group. Miller met Horowitz as a teen and invited the conservative writer to speak at his high school, Politico reported. As a student Duke University, Miller once again invited Horowitz to speak. Horowitz’s defenders say he is pointing out real threats others are ignoring in the name of political correctness and worse.
He also organized a campus group that promoted an “Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week.”
At Duke, Miller worked with Horowitz’ think tank to launch the “Terrorism Awareness Project,” which sought to educate college students about “Islamofascism,” according to CNN. In a blog post about the project, Miller wrote that young people were not aware of the dangers of radical Islam: “American kids attend school in an educational system corrupted by the hard left. In this upside-down world, America is the villain and Jihadists the victims of our foreign policy. Instead of opening eyes, we are fastening blindfolds.” Suggested programming for one of the project’s initiatives include screening a film called “Islam: What the West Needs to Know,” which aimed to show “the violent, expansionary ideology of the so called ‘religion of peace’ that seeks the destruction or subjugation of other faiths, cultures, and systems of government.”
As a college student, Miller wrote a biweekly column for the The Duke Chronicle, addressing such topics as terrorism, U.S. foreign policy and political correctness. Defending President George W. Bush’s war in Iraq, Miller wrote that “Islamic terrorists have declared holy war on the United States. They have declared a death sentence on every man, woman and child living in this country.” In another column he attacked the lack of border security following the 9/11 attacks, writing “Why aren’t our airports, borders or ports secure? … Why are there 3,000,000 people in the United States who have overstayed their visas? Why isn’t the murder of 3,000 people enough to shake us out of our apathy?”
And yet, the Saudi Arabia speech may be kindler and gentler
For all his aide’s aggressive rhetoric, Trump is expected to deliver a speech that, according to the A.P., will “call for unity in the fight against radicalism in the Muslim world,” casting the challenge as a “battle between good and evil.” According to the draft obtained by the A.P., the speech envisions a “new partnerships with America’s traditional allies in the Middle East. It noticeably refrains from mentioning democracy and human rights — topics Arab leaders often view as U.S. moralizing — in favor of the more limited goals of peace and stability.”