At a White House press briefing Wednesday, senior Trump policy adviser Stephen Miller belittled the sonnet inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty, delighting white nationalists who have frequently disparaged the poem. But that wasn’t the only insult with a racial subtext Miller used during the briefing.
When CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta challenged Miller on the administration’s new immigration policy, which favors English-speaking immigrants, Miller quickly snapped and pointed a finger at what he called Acosta’s “cosmopolitan bias.”
Miller’s use of the word “cosmopolitan” was shocking to many, given the word’s ugly, racist, anti-Semitic past. Politico, in a piece detailing the history of the word “cosmopolitan,” called the term the more sinister cousin to the word “elitist.” Soviet dictator Josef Stalin used the epithet in a 1946 speech deriding “all things foreign and cosmopolitan,” as part of a cultural crusade against the “western bourgeoisie,” which largely consisted of writers, theatre critics, and scientists, many of whom were Jewish.
White nationalist groups have also adopted the term “cosmopolitan” into their lexicon to attack those they see as “globalists.” The word is frequently used across white nationalist websites and forums like Stormfront, which has its own section on the philosophy page devoted to the idea of “cosmopolitanism.” There, white nationalists espouse dangerous thoughts, including this one: “Confronted with the ruins of their culture, and having been abandoned by the state which purports to represent them, white Americans will have to fall back on their inherited racial and ethnic identities. Only then will the historic American people find the strength to turn the tables on cosmopolitan elites.” This, they claim, is the antithesis to the nationalist, who, above all, puts love of country first.
David Duke, former Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan and noted Holocaust-denier, used the term “cosmopolitan” on his website in a 2014 post titled “Jewish Supremacists Demand that World Recognizes Israel as a Jews-Only State.” In it, Duke claims that “Jewish Supremacists,” including the U.S. ambassador to Israel, demand that everyone “be as mixed and as cosmopolitan as possible.”
Other corners of white nationalists on the internet like VDare use the term “cosmopolitan” to support their positions on immigration. A post on VDare titled “It Turns Out People Don’t Think Immigration Is A Right” describes the current state of immigration as “an ideological split between cosmopolitan elites who see immigration as a common good based in universal rights and voters who see it as a gift conferred on certain outsiders deemed worthy of joining the community.”