A look back at Trump adviser Stephen Miller's college writing career.

The Duke Newspaper Columns by Trumpkin Stephen Miller That Made GOPers Say, “My God”

The Duke Newspaper Columns by Trumpkin Stephen Miller That Made GOPers Say, “My God”

The Slatest
Your News Companion
Dec. 14 2016 2:22 PM

The Duke Newspaper Columns by Trumpkin Stephen Miller That Made GOPers Say, “My God”

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Stephen Miller speaks at a Donald Trump rally on May 25 in Anaheim, California.

Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

The conservative student newspaper column is one of the most predictable genres of writing in existence. There’s an art to it—certain formal conventions to be followed, certain stock arguments and phrases that demand reuse. Stephen Miller, tapped on Tuesday as a senior adviser in Trump’s White House, would have been well-qualified to teach a master class on the format during his time at Duke, where he wrote a series of columns for the the Duke Chronicle decrying political correctness and other leftist tyrannies with all the milquetoast reactionary spleen of Wall Street Journal editorial writers more than twice his age.

These columns were evidently a source of concern for his co-workers while he was serving as a staffer to Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, Trump's pick for attorney general. “There were rumors that spread around that he wrote these columns at Duke that really walked a fine line on racial issues, to put it mildly,” one former staffer told Politico Magazine in June. “I’ve stood in a lot of hallway huddles where the talk was, ‘My God, if you look at what he wrote in college … ’ ”

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Miller’s columns on the Duke lacrosse scandal brought him national attention and TV guest spots. His other work, while less appreciated, could with minor alterations be a source of inspiration for the many willing conservative martyrs on deadline at campuses across the country today. Here's a sampling:

On America’s longest war, the War on Christmas:

  • “Christmas is being banned. Whether it's holiday trees, holiday parties, holiday concerts or ‘Happy Holidays,’ the word Christmas is slowly being exiled from society. I, for one, am offended. And I'm Jewish.” (“Attack of the Secularist Scrooges,” Dec. 6, 2005)
  • “In contrast to the brutally cold hedonism of the atheist view, Christmas is a time filled with warmth and spirit.” (“The Case for Christmas,” Dec. 4, 2006)

On feminism and closing the pay gap:

  • “What feminists don't realize is that bosses simply want to run a successful business. They will reward and promote whichever employees are doing the best job. If John sells more than Jill, he gets promoted; if Jill sells more than John, she gets promoted. That is the simple beauty of the free market.” (“Sorry Feminists,” Nov. 22, 2005)
  • “It's vital to keep in mind what it would actually mean for women if we were to close the pay gap. For many, it would mean giving up a noble career in social working or putting in 50- and 60-hour work weeks and not being able to spend time with the family. It would mean trading in jobs like housekeeping for night shifts doing road repairs; it would mean giving up the joy of being home during your child's first years of life.” (Ibid)
  • “It's not chauvinism. It's chivalry.” (Ibid)
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On affirmative action:

  • “So-called affirmative action—which is a system of racial preferences—is not simply misguided. It is a devastating, paternalistic policy endorsed by white liberals more concerned with how they look to their elitist friends than to the well-being of the minorities they claim they want to help.” (“Making Duke Perfect: Part I,” Oct. 11, 2006)

On former Education Secretary Bill Bennett’s comment that one could hypothetically reduce crime by aborting “every black baby in this country”:

  • “As soon as the opportunity presents itself you will be decried as a racist, then boycotted, smeared and blacklisted. With the scent of blood in the air, the left descended on Bennett like a pack of wolves.” (“Tricky Extrapolations,” Oct. 26, 2005)
  • “Falsely labeling someone as a racist should not be taken lightly and does nothing whatsoever to help black people, which I'm presuming the BSA wishes to do. If that is indeed the case, here is some advice: The real problems facing the black community are not—gasp—conservative commentators but the fact that, as some studies have shown, about 194,300 black men between the ages of 20 and 29 are sentenced federal or state prisoners—compared to 126,600 white men and 103,300 Hispanic men; two-thirds of black children are born out of wedlock; and 12 percent of black students in the eighth grade are at or above a proficient reading level. I'm sure to be called a racist just for shedding light on these troubling issues.” (Ibid)
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On the fifth anniversary of 9/11:

  • “We oppose common-sense security measures. We give driver's licenses to illegal aliens. Meanwhile our enemy yearns to attack with all the force of Sept. 11 multiplied a hundred times. What will it take for us to understand?” (“9.11.01,” Sept. 11, 2006)

On interactions between Duke students and residents of Durham, North Carolina:

  • “[I]f we want to stay on campus or to limit our interaction with Durham to Cosmic Cantina or perhaps just the delivery drivers, then we have nothing to apologize for. If anything, the insistence on interacting with Durham locals is condescending to the town residents. Durham isn't a petting zoo. The residents won't get lonely or irritable if we don't play with them.
    "A good case in point would be when I was a freshman and I was told to make a birthday card for one of the janitors that serviced my dorm. As I enjoy talking with people, I had struck up a few conversations with this janitor, but I knew she would not have expected a birthday card from me anymore than I would from her. Yet we were all supposed to send our birthday wishes to the janitor as though she had no friends or life of her own.” (“Welcome to the Durham Petting Zoo,” April 5, 2006)
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On defining and defending American culture:

  • “Duke, in lockstep with the modern American university, worships at the altar of multiculturalism. As we obsess over, adulate and extol the non-American cultures we ignore the culture we all hold in common.
    "Every year Page Auditorium is packed to celebrate Indian and Asian culture, while crucial American cultural events like Thanksgiving, Christmas, President's Day and Veterans Day are ignored and forgotten.” (“America: the Forgotten Campus Culture,” Nov. 20, 2006)
  • “Our culture includes Jimmy Stewart, John Wayne, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jackie Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt, Douglas Macarthur, Milton Friedman, Edgar Allen Poe, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Thomas Edison and again, for emphasis, Elvis Presley.” (Ibid)

Finally, on making America great again:

  • “Inside our borders, the nation of E Pluribus Unum threatens to be fractured across ethnic lines by racial animus and divisive multiculturalism. We suffer from sagging patriotism, growing malaise and a loss of faith in the noble history and principles that have made us great.” (“Farewell,” April 23, 2007)

White nationalist Richard Spencer, who also attended Duke at the time, told Mother Jones in October that Miller was even more outspoken in meetings of the Duke Conservative Union, where the two reportedly bonded over “concerns that immigrants from non-European countries were not assimilating.”

“It's funny no one's picked up on the Stephen Miller connection,” Spencer said. “I knew him very well when I was at Duke. But I am kind of glad no one's talked about this because I don't want to harm Trump.”