Illinois GOP Rep. Mary Miller apologizes for Hitler remark at pro-Trump rally: Calls remain for her to resign
Miller: “I sincerely apologize for any harm my words caused and regret using a reference to one of the most evil dictators in history to illustrate the dangers that outside influences can have on our youth.”
WASHINGTON — Freshman Rep. Mary Miller, R-Ill., apologized on Friday after gaining national attention for saying “Hitler was right on one thing” at a pro-Trump rally, sparking bipartisan condemnation and a call from several Illinois Democrats to resign.
In the apology, Miller, in office less than a week, accused critics of “trying to intentionally twist my words.”
Miller’s remarks gained widespread coverage in Illinois and national outlets, launching the congressional career of the outspoken supporter of President Donald Trump in controversy.
An online petition demanding Miller’s resignation posted by the Illinois Legislative Jewish Caucus, a group of 15 state lawmakers, had more than 11,500 signatures by Friday evening.
Illinois Democratic Reps. Jan Schakowsky, Marie Newman, Sean Casten and Sen. Tammy Duckworth called on Miller to resign.
Tim Schneider, the Illinois GOP chairman and Illinois GOP Reps. Rodney Davis and Adam Kinzinger condemned her remarks. “Hitler wasn’t right about anything,” Kinzinger said.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat, said her remarks were “unfathomable and disgusting” and invited her to visit the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Skokie. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum said it “unequivocally condemns any leader trying to advance a position by claiming Adolf Hitler was ‘right.’
In a statement, Miller said, “Earlier this week, I spoke to a group of mothers about the importance of faith and guarding our youth from destructive influences. I sincerely apologize for any harm my words caused and regret using a reference to one of the most evil dictators in history to illustrate the dangers that outside influences can have on our youth.
“This dark history should never be repeated and parents should be proactive to instill what is good, true, right, and noble into their children’s hearts and minds. While some are trying to intentionally twist my words to mean something antithetical to my beliefs, let me be clear: I’m passionately pro-Israel and I will always be a strong advocate and ally of the Jewish community. I’ve been in discussion with Jewish leaders across the country and am grateful to them for their kindness and forthrightness.”
Miller, from Oakland, in east central Illinois, spoke at the “Moms for America Saving the Republic” rally outside the Capitol on Tuesday.
At the rally, Miller said: “Each generation has the responsibility to teach the next generation. You know, if we win a few elections we’re still going to be losing unless we win the hearts of our children. It’s the battle. Hitler was right on one thing — that whoever has the youth has the future. Our children are being propagandized.”
David Goldenberg, a regional director for the Anti-Defamation League based in Chicago, told the Sun-Times he talked with Miller on Thursday. He declined to discuss details of their discussion.
Schakowsky called the apology “totally inadequate” and “incorrect that somehow her words were being manipulated.” Her statement of support for Israel, “was not really the issue at hand,” Schakowsky said, “that somehow that is evidence of how much she loves the Jewish people.”
Schakowsky labeled Miller’s apology “disingenuous.”
After the apology Casten said, “no one quotes Hitler by accident.” Newman said “when you’re a sitting U.S. Representative and you invoke Adolf Hitler in a positive way, the only action acceptable after that is your resignation. Period.”
State Sen. Sara Feigenholtz, D-Chicago, who organized the petition, said Friday, “Americans have had enough of this hatred … especially from our congressional leaders and elected officials who should be held to ahigher standard.”
Illinois Catholic leaders issued a joint statement in the wake of Miller’s comment. Chicago’s Cardinal Blase Cupich and the Bishops of Belleville, Peoria and Springfield — Michael McGovern, Daniel Jenky, Louis Tylka and Thomas Paprocki — said they “appreciate” Miller’s apology and added: “Words matter. Words from elected officials matter more. To reference Adolf Hitler in support of any policy position normalizes an evil person. It does great harm and shows deep insensitivity to the Jewish community, as well as the many others who suffered from the racist Nazi ideology and in the war waged to eliminate it.”
“Also troubling was her comment: “Whoever has the youth has the future.” Read in light of the Hitler reference, it objectifies children as pawns in a game about power and influence, rather than seeing them as future actors in bringing about the common good. The common good is not served by demonizing opponents. Pope Francis has called for a new kind of dialogue which moves beyond merely finding common ground or avoiding offense, and instead seeks a true encounter with others. Words matter, and words of true encounter can contribute to healing.”
The Holocaust genocide is a singular, non-comparable event in human history. The Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933, and with collaborators in other nations, murdered six million Jews and others — Roma, or Gypsies; homosexuals, political opponents, Jehovah’s witness, the disabled as well as people from other countries.