An Illinois lawmaker married to a member of Congress, who was herself recently criticized for quoting Hitler, is facing his own rebuke for displaying the logo of an extremist movement on his pickup truck at the U.S. Capitol complex in Washington on Jan. 6. A photo shared on Twitter on Wednesday showed Chris Miller, a
An Illinois lawmaker married to a member of Congress, who was herself recently criticized for quoting Hitler, is facing his own rebuke for displaying the logo of an extremist movement on his pickup truck at the U.S. Capitol complex in Washington on Jan. 6.
A photo shared on Twitter on Wednesday showed Chris Miller, a Republican member of the Illinois General Assembly, had a decal of the Three Percenters anti-government movement prominently displayed on his truck while it was parked at the East Front of the Capitol — an area that was highly restricted Jan. 6.
His wife Rep. Mary E. Miller (R-Ill.) had been sworn in to her first term just days earlier.
Miller has denied involvement with the Three Percenters movement and claimed he didn’t know what the logo represented. In an email to the Daily Beast, which first reported on the photo, Miller said he displayed the “cool” sticker given to him by an “Army friend” and only removed it after the backlash.
Then in a statement from Miller’s office Friday, he said the sticker was given to his son by a family friend who explained it as representing “patriotism and love of country.”
“My intention was to display what I thought was a patriotic statement. I love our country and consider myself a patriot,” the statement read.
Miller did not immediately respond to The Washington Post’s requests Saturday seeking clarification or a response to the call for him to be investigated.
State lawmakers such as Bob Morgan, a Democratic representative from suburban Chicago, rejected Miller’s denials. On Twitter, he called the Three Percenters display “unacceptable for an average person” and “garbage and disqualifying” for a member of the Illinois General Assembly.
“I really look at Jan. 6 as a clear line in the sand,” Morgan told The Post Saturday. “If you choose insurrection, you don’t deserve to serve as an elected official.”
Several of his Democratic colleagues already viewed Miller and his wife as “central figures” in the attempted coup Jan. 6. and said flaunting a Three Percenters logo is part of a broader trend by the couple.
Rep. Mary E. Miller spoke at one of the rallies ahead of the Jan. 6 riot where she told the audience, “Hitler was right on one thing. He said, ‘Whoever has the youth has the future.’ Our children are being propagandized.”
Her husband identifies as a member of the so-called “Eastern Bloc,” an unofficial caucus of populist, anti-tax and anti-regulation state Republicans in the deepest-red parts of Illinois. The group opposed the state’s stay-at-home orders at the start of the coronavirus pandemic last year.
On Jan. 6, Miller live-streamed a video moments before insurrectionists attacked the Capitol in which he called Democrats “terrorists” and declared “we’re in a great culture war to see which worldview will survive.”
“I don’t think there’s much ambiguity about the side they’re on,” Morgan said.
Democrats and a small number Republicans have cited the Capitol insurrection as a wake-up call about the rising tide of right-wing extremism in the country. U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) is among the few members of the GOP to call out his party’s embrace of conspiracy theories and extremism. He was among the just 10 House Republicans who voted to convict former president Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial.
Kinzinger has specifically rebuked the Millers before, condemning Rep. Mary E. Miller’s quoting of Hitler as “garbage” last month. Friday, Kinzinger tweeted of state Rep. Chris Miller, “Our party needs to handle this and I support further investigation.”
Illinois Republican leadership has not weighed in on Chris Miller’s decision to display an extremist group’s logo on his car or the calls for him to be investigated over it. The chairman of the Illinois Republican Party did not immediately respond to a request for comment Saturday.
The Anti-Defamation League called the embrace of an anti-government extremist symbol “deeply disturbing” in a statement Saturday.
“We expect our elected officials to speak out against hate and extremism, not embrace and display their symbols,” said David Goldenberg, the regional director for the ADL Midwest. “Ignorance of extremist symbols, especially by elected officials, is unacceptable.”
The group noted it had only last week contacted Rep. Mary E. Miller to share troubling data coming from and around the congressional district she has been newly elected to serve. Between 2019 and 2020, the ADL said it documented more than 50 hate, extremist, antisemitic and terrorist incidents in Illinois’s 15th congressional district.
Three Percenters subscribe to a core ideology that the government has tyrannical tendencies and seeks to undermine civil liberties and constitutional freedoms, and thus must be kept in check by forceful militia groups, according to Arie Perliger, who studies political violence, extremism and far-right politics at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell and wrote the 2020 book, “American Zealots: Inside Right-Wing Domestic Terrorism.”
“There is a much larger group that don’t dispute to the core ideology of the Three Percenters but [who] agree that the government is overreaching and eroding some basic American way of life,” Perliger told The Post.
The Three Percenters ideology emerged in 2008 around the idea that a small number of “patriots” protect Americans from the tyranny of big government with the name itself a reference to the debunked claim that only 3 percent of the population fought against the British in the American Revolution.
At least every state has a chapter of the Three Percenters and their own visual artifacts, what Perliger described as unique logos and memorabilia — shirts, hats, stickers — that all reference the Roman numeral three, stars and percent written or represented by a symbol.
“There are lot of people who identify with this idea, even if they don’t always subscribe to the full range of the ideology,” Perliger said.
As for Miller’s defense of plausible deniability, Perliger is unconvinced.
“He’s a politician. He’s a public figure. He should know when he puts a political sticker on the car, he has a responsibility to verify what it means,” Perliger said. “He’s either lying or he’s admitting he’s not being responsible.”