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New Illinois Congresswoman Criticized for Saying 'Hitler Was Right On One Thing'

Twitter feed of Eric Lipton/NY Times
Illinois 15th District U.S. Rep. Mary Miller (R-Oakland), speaking at a Washington DC rally outside the Capitol Building on Tuesday. Miller's use of a Hitler quotation led to criticism back in her home state.

Leaders of both major parties condemned downstate Congresswoman Mary Miller Wednesday for saying Adolf Hitler was "right on one thing" at a Washington DC rally.

Miller, a staunch supporter of Donald Trump, cited the Nazi dictator at a pro-Trump rally held on the front lawn of the U.S. Capitol Building, two days after being sworn in to represent Illinois’ 15th congressional district.

The first-term Republican from rural Coles County in east central Illinois said a lasting GOP victory could only come by reaching young people.

“If we win a few elections, we’re still going to be losing, unless we win the hearts and minds of our children,” said Miller, who was one of the featured speakers at the “Save the Republic” rally held by Moms For America. “This is the battle. Hitler was right on one thing. He said, ‘Whoever has the youth, has the future’. Our children are being propagandized.”

Miller urged her audience to train their children morally, so they would know the difference between good and evil, and be able to overcome the latter.

Miller’s remarks quoted a widely circulated paraphrase of a statement Hitler made at the 1935 Nazi Party annual rally, according to Time Magazine. Her remarks initially came to light in Illinois through a video sent out via Instagram Live and Twitter by Margot McGowan Staebler, a Democrat and Michigan State University law student, who was in Washington DC with her family.

Miller’s speech was in the background as Staebler walked around at the rally, recording a brief commentary meant to be seen by friends. She says she attended the event because she sensed it was part of an important moment in history. Her video shows her eyes widening in surprise when Miller quoted Hitler.

“I don’t think Hitler was right about anything,” said Staebler, when asked about Miller’s remarks later. “So I think the idea that youth turnout, youth engagement in civic organizations, the youth vote in important, I don’t think that notion is radical. I was surprised she decided to attribute that to Hitler.”

Governor JB Pritzker agreed with Staebler, when he commented on Miller’s remarks at his COVID-19 news conference on Wednesday.

“Hitler got nothing right”, said Pritzker, who is Jewish. “If Representative Miller was the least bit interested in history, she would visit the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, to learn just how wrong Hitler really was,” said Pritzker.

In a statement, the Illinois Holocaust Museum in Skokie invited Miller to pay them a visit, but said her remarks trivialized the genocidal damage done by Hitler.

“When you take these horrific moments in our history, and you use them for contemporary purposes in order to fulfill your political objectives, you trample on history and diminish the Holocaust and the memory of Survivors,” museum officials said.

Pritzker, a Democrat, called on Illinois Republicans to condemn Miller’s remarks, and some of them did.

“I outright condemn this garbage,” tweeted U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, who has been at odds with Miller over Pres. Trump. Kinzinger is a Republican who represents Illinois’ 16th District.

“Our elected officials must not normalize, validate, or support Hitler’s memory, quotes, ideology, etc.” said Republican Tim Butler of Springfield, who represents the 87th District in the Illinois House. He sent his message in a tweet that displayed the Bronze Star awarded to his father, an infantryman in Europe during World War Two.

State GOP Chairman Tim Schneider and state Senate Republican Leader Designate Dan McConchie both issued statements condemning Miller’s use of the Hitler quotation, with Schneider urging the congresswoman to apologize.

Meanwhile, the Illinois Legislative Jewish Caucus called on Miller to resign.

“A sitting member of Congress who uses Hitler’s obscene methods for indoctrinating children with racism and fascism as a guidepost, igniting hate and violence, has no place in Congress,” the group of state legislators said in a statement.

The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. also commented, saying it “unequivocally condemns any leader trying to advance a position by claiming Adolf Hitler was ‘right’”.

Miller did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the Hitler remark Wednesday. Her day was disrupted when pro-Trump extremists stormed the Capitol Building while Congress was engaged in the certification of electoral ballots. Miller had announced she was joining a group of Republicans who would contest ballots in certain states that had voted for Democrat Joe Biden.

Later in the day, Miller published a post on her campaign Facebook page, saying she was safe, and that despite America’s divisions, there was no excuse for the violence that had occurred. But she made no mention of her reference to Hitler at Tuesday’s rally, or the storm of criticism that came in response.