Stephen Miller blasted a CNN reporter last week for his “cosmopolitan” bias, but the White House adviser looks like a consummate cosmopolite in his own right since the revelation that he lives in a luxury Washington, D.C., complex partly owned by a foreign government.
Miller’s apartment is part of the CityCenterDC complex, a sleek new collection of residential and retail buildings in the heart of Washington that is partially owned by Qatari Diar, the Gulf nation’s sovereign wealth fund. Miller’s choice to live in the expensive pad developed with the emirate’s petrodollars complicates his claim to be an “America First” policymaker hostile to global interests.
“When I was 28, I was a local reporter in Dallas renting a studio apartment. But we did have a nice pool,” Jim Acosta, the CNN journalist Miller scuffled with last week, wrote on Twitter. The two came to verbal blows over the Trump administration’s plan to cut legal immigration and give priority to those who speak English or arrive with skills. Acosta asked Miller if the English requirement would mean that only people from Britain or Australia would be allowed in. Miller responded that the premise of Acosta’s question revealed the reporter’s “cosmopolitan bias.”
Miller’s use of the term “cosmopolitan” seem to conflate it with ignorance, or with a narrow social circle that includes only people from a few countries. But that’s not how most would understand it. Merriam Webster defines the term as “having worldwide rather than limited or provincial scope or bearing.” So, “cosmopolitan” means exactly the opposite of what Miller seems to have meant. Of course, the epithet also evokes “rootless cosmopolitan,” an anti-Semitic insult that originated in the Soviet Union after World War II to demonize critics of nationalism.
And, in fact, his apartment in the Qatari-built complex, which includes upmarket foreign shops like Hermes, Burberry and Gucci, might fit the bill for the cosmopolitanism that he seems to deplore so much. What’s more, records from The Washington Post seem to indicate that he received financial assistance from his father, a California real estate developer, to snag the swanky apartment (possibly too difficult to afford on a government salary).
Miller has presented himself and the Trump agenda as being for the Everyman - coalminers in West Virginia and factory workers in Michigan. The policies around that presentation have included efforts to curb immigration and to crack down on so-called “global” influences. That was a major theme of the Trump campaign, which ran an October ad implying that financiers like George Soros and Lloyd Blankfein were part of a worldwide scheme to strip America of its wealth. His reference last week to a “cosmopolitan bias” was an attempt to tie this fight against “globalism” with the administration’s war on the media.
Daniel J. Solomon is the Assistant to the Editor/News Writer at the Forward. Originally from Queens, he attended Harvard as an undergraduate, where he wrote his senior thesis on French-Jewish intellectual history. He is excited to have returned to New York after his time in Massachusetts. Daniel’s passions include folk music, cycling, and pointed argument.