Our CEO, Chris Cox, is a Board member of the Illinois Collaboration on Youth. As a health and human service provider, we see daily the deep-rooted racist inequities that negatively impact our children, families, and communities we are called to serve. This is the moment in national history when all elected officials must rise above party politics and ask themselves, “What are you doing for others?”
As community leaders serving children, youth, and families, we continue to grapple with the revelations and events over the past week, seeking to discern both our own responses as individuals to the violent attack on our nation’s democracy and our role as leaders in helping young people to understand these events in the hopes that they may never be repeated.
These events are not isolated. Rather, they are the culmination of our nation’s toxic legacy of white supremacy and the deep-rooted racial inequities that we must confront, including a lack of accountability for police brutality and systemic racism embedded in the foundations of our society. The reckoning is long overdue.
And yet even in this context, U.S. Rep. Mary Miller from Illinois’ 15th District chose to quote Adolf Hitler approvingly in her prepared remarks, stating that he was right about youth.
From her reprehensible remarks and her subsequent apology, it is clear that Miller has failed to understand how her citation of Hitler conflicts with the basic values articulated in our Constitution. She is unfit for her role as a representative of more than 700,000 people from all races, ethnicities, and religions, including thousands of children and youth who, while lacking the right to vote, still count on her to be their voice in Congress.
We have a right to expect our elected officials to adhere to a high standard of leadership, and to model for young people the importance of understanding history and representing it accurately. We must be honest about people’s capacity for ugliness and inhumanity. We must also articulate why people such as Hitler — who designed and instigated the genocide of more than six million Jews and others, including people with disabilities — should not be rehabilitated in any way by casual assertions that he was right about anything. As an association that serves as a collective voice for children, youth, and families, we are compelled to speak out against her statement.
If Miller were truly sorry for the harm she has caused, she would participate in a restorative justice process, with sincere efforts to engage the community she has harmed and to understand and repair the damage she has done. Instead, she has lashed out defensively, claiming that people are trying to twist her words.
Her actions and statements make it impossible to trust her judgement or her leadership. Representing people in Congress is an honor and a privilege, not an entitlement. Miller does not deserve to be the voice of anyone. On behalf of the Illinois Collaboration on Youth and the Board of Directors, we call on her to resign her position immediately.
Chief Executive Officer
Illinois Collaboration on Youth