Through normative race privilege, a white person is seen as “just human.” A white nationalist like Miller, thus, cannot be representative of white society.
CW: mentions of racism/white supremacy and r/pe
Stephen Miller, the senior advisor of policy for Donald Trump, is the architect of the first Trump administration travel ban or “Muslim ban” and the border policy that separated nearly 2,500 migrant children from their families. His role as senior advisor has been dedicated to a persistent call for restrictive immigration policies that would curb the already abysmal asylum acceptance rate and prohibit refugee entry.
Miller is a known xenophobe, and his xenophobic policies are structured for one purpose: the protection of white supremacy and the building of a white ethnostate. The policies that Miller produces are inspired by his racism. Yet, when Representative Ilhan Omar labeled him a white nationalist in April, she was berated by conservative after conservative:
Last week, the Southern Poverty Law Center confirmed Miller’s racist proclivities and his known affinity for white supremacy, in their report of Miller’s leaked correspondence to the far-right news publication, Breitbart. More than 900 emails, penned by Miller and addressed to Breitbart editors, confirm his disdain for “nonwhites” and contain references to “white nationalist websites, a ‘white genocide’-themed novel in which Indian men rape white women, xenophobic conspiracy theories and eugenics-era immigration laws that Adolf Hitler lauded in ‘Mein Kampf.’”
In April, there had not been leaked emails promoting white supremacist, neo-Nazi texts and sites to link to Miller’s white nationalist policies and beliefs, but now there is ample evidence but little condemnation from conservatives.
What is far more concerning is that Miller’s racism had been common knowledge to the Press Corps, who neutralized it as the “‘opposing side’ to a bipartisan bill that passed the Senate.” As Jeff Sessions’ former communication director, Miller would send “multiple unhinged, racist screeds per week…about immigration” to reporters that covered Washington, DC in 2013.
This is where normative race privilege protects not only Miller but also any white person, politician, or reporter that reacts to Miller’s deviation with nonchalance rather than active denunciation.
Whiteness has evolved to be the norm, as a result of normative race privilege. In discourse, by way of said privilege, the white person is denoted simply as “person.” The non-white are racialized. Therefore, the world is divided to persons (white) and persons of color.
Persons of color are embodied in their shared deviation. If a person of color were to rob you in a “bad” neighborhood, sell drugs on the street of the same “bad” neighborhood, or worse, exact terror on an epitomic white city or institution — in each action, they only exemplify the deviation that they have always represented for the normative race.
Normative race privilege ensures that the white person is seen as an individual, “‘just’ human.” A white nationalist, thus, cannot be the representative of white society.
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Academic Richard Dyer writes, “Whiteness generally colonises the stereotypical definition of all social categories other than those of race. To be normal, even to be normally deviant (queer, crippled), is to be white. White people in their whiteness, however, are imaged as individual and/or endlessly diverse, complex and changing.”
If Stephen Miller is a white nationalist, then that is not tied to a problem with whiteness and its complete invisibility to white people. That is tied to Stephen Miller as an individual. And, that line of thinking absolves white people of the duty to assess the ways in which white supremacy exists as an oppressive, structured system as opposed to a sporadic, misinformed ideology of one white person.
The same normative race privilege ensures that the actions of an individual BIPOC is seen as representative of every BIPOC, since the non-white subject is not afforded space or autonomy to contain similarities or differences.
Toni Morrison wrote, “The function, the very serious function of racism is distraction. It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining, over and over again, your reason for being.” Specifically, racism, in this sense, ensures that BIPOC explain and explain again the violence of white supremacy and of Stephen Miller. This is because, in white discourse, BIPOC exist as “a function of the white subject” or “as a means for knowing the white self.”
It can never come from the white person since that would demand that they see whiteness as a system. That would demand that they first see their whiteness.