It’s been open season on Stephen Miller since last week’s press briefing. What’s amazing is that he is being widely mocked for what he said about the Statue of Liberty — when he got the history exactly right.
Meanwhile, Jeff Greenfield has hit Miller for using the term “cosmopolitan.” I like Greenfield and he’s an acute political observer who considered a Trump nomination thinkable back when most of us still didn’t. He traces the term back to Stalin-era anti-Jewish purges in the Soviet Union. Tarring Miller with this brush is completely absurd, especially given his background.
Greenfield is right that the word cosmopolitan hasn’t been used much in our politics. But it makes sense that if nationalism is taking more prominent role, we’re going to need a ready term for its opposite. I’m open to alternatives, but cosmopolitan works just fine, and it isn’t inherently a hate-word. Here, to pick just one example, is a book by the social scientist Craig Calhoun titled, “Nations Matter: Culture, History, and the Cosmopolitan Dream.” I assure you it is not a poorly disguised screed against the Jews.
All that said, it did seem inapt for Miller to criticize Acosta for his cosmopolitanism when the CNN reporter was demonstrating a blinkered view of the world — he evidently had no idea that India, the Philippines, and Nigeria all have more English speakers than the U.K. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that Acosta was displaying a version of a cosmopolitan provincialism that Ross Douthat wrote about in this characteristically excellent column.