Newly elected U.S. Rep. Mary Miller from Illinois’ 15th congressional district, which includes Vermilion County, has had an eventful first two weeks in office.
While memorable, they do not bode well for her constituents.
It started on Jan.5 when she addressed the group “Moms for America” in Washington D.C.
In prepared remarks, she inexplicably — inexcusably — quoted Adolf Hitler.
“Each generation has the responsibility to teach the next generation,” Miller, a Republican from Oakland in nearby Coles County, told the group gathered near the Capitol. “You know, if we win a few elections we’re still going to be losing unless we win the hearts of our children. This is the battle. Hitler was right on one thing. He said whoever has the youth has the future.”
One can only guess what motivated the congresswoman’s poor judgment to quote the Nazi leader who triggered World War II in Europe and directed the extermination of 6 million Jews in death camps. But we’ll be wincing about this lapse for a long time.
As you would expect, Miller’s comment drew harsh criticism from both sides of the political divide, according to the Associated Press. Illinois Republicans, including U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger and state GOP Chairman Tim Schneider, condemned the remarks. “Wrong and disgusting” are the words Schneider used to describe the language.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat who is Jewish, called the comments “unfathomable.”
“Let me be clear: Hitler got nothing right,” Pritzker told reporters Wednesday. “This reprehensible rhetoric has no place in our politics.”
The head of the World Jewish Congress, an international organization, blasted Miller’s comment as “simply outrageous.”
“One might expect this from white supremacists or neo-Nazis, but hearing the words ‘Hitler was right’ from the mouth of a member of the United States Congress is beyond acceptable behavior by any standards,” Ronald Lauder, the group’s president said in a statement.
Miller could have captured the same sentiment she was trying to express by invoking words from far better people.
There’s Benjamin Franklin: “An investment in knowledge pays the best dividends.”
Or Abe Lincoln: “Teach the children so it will not be necessary to teach the adults.”
Miller subsequently apologized for quoting Hitler. Kind of. At least she publicly acknowledged that invoking Hitler wasn’t wise.
As bad as Miller’s judgment was in choosing whom she quotes in speeches, her decisions on some early House votes were even worse.
On Jan. 6, the day a mob incited by Trump and his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol, she voted against approving the Electoral College report from the states that showed Joe Biden winning the 2020 election. Think about that for a moment. District 15’s new member of the U.S. House used one of her first votes to try to overturn a free and fair election, even though every official entity involved had declared it legal and official.
A week later, despite overwhelming evidence, Miller voted against an article of impeachment which charged Trump with inciting the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol that resulted in the deaths of five people — including two police officers, one of whom was beaten to death by an attacker with a fire extinguisher — and injuries to scores of others.
It’s early in Miller’s first term, so she has an opportunity to clean up her act and become a more thoughtful and attentive member of Congress on behalf of all her constituents. For now, she has a long way to go.
Portions of this editorial first appeared in he Effingham Daily News. It has been adapted for use in the Commercial-News.