By Jim Miles
(Hatemonger: Stephen Miller, Donald Trump and the White Nationalist Agenda. Jean Guerrero. William Morrow/HarperCollins, New York, 2020.)
While browsing the History/Politics section of a local bookstore the number of works devoted to the many aspects of Donald Trump was quite amazing, but considering his impact on current events domestically and globally probably not truly surprising.
Unable to decide which might provide the best overall view, the title Hatemonger by Jean Guerrero carried an obvious bias, not about Trump per se, but about one of the most influential characters in his coterie of admirers, Stephen Miller. While many have come and gone, Stephen Miller remains attached to the Trump cause, and Trump is equally attracted to his hate monger.
The prologue effectively outlines the relationship between Miller and Trump – the similarities in their thoughts and actions. Guerrero states clearly, “It is impossible to understand the Trump era, with its unparalleled polarization, without tracing Miller’s journey to the White House.” Reading even just the first line of each introductory paragraph before the details are delivered provides a good overview of the relationship:
“In a White House where people are frequently forced out, Miller has survived….He grasps Trump’s grudges and goals….The demonization of migrants is to Miller what the border wall is to Trump: a tool with which to mobilized the base,” the base being white male supremacists.
As for the title, Guerrero writes,
“Trump knew how to hatemonger before he met Miller….but when their paths collided, there was an alchemy. Trump’s riches, marketing instinct and emotional racism emerged with Miller’s fanatical ideology, work ethic and strategic thinking.”
After the prologue begins the Miller’s tale.
It tells of someone strongly racist, xenophobic, and someone ready and willing to manipulate in whatever manner was required for the success of their ideology. One of the facets was adopting Horowitz’s assertion that between hope and fear, “fear is a much stronger and more compelling emotion.”
He knew that whatever ire they could raise would simply harvest the media attention and focus it entirely on Trump, “The more upset the media was at his boss – or pretended to be – the better. They’d fixate on him, elevate him.”
Inside the government, Miller applied himself, establishing himself as one of the principal movers of his and Trump’s agenda. From Guerrero’s descriptions, the agenda is mostly Miller’s playing with Trump’s ideas however ill-conceived or considered. But it wasn’t just about Trump, “Miller observed early that to survive in Trump’s orbit, he would have to ally himself with Trump’s beloved daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner. It wasn’t hard.”
Miller is Jewish and pro-Zionist. Very quickly “Miller was expanding his control across the government. He dispatched ideological allies to key positions within the bureaucracy.”
Miller’s tale makes interesting reading about how one person with the ability to focus and the drive to dominate can steer the course of history. Certainly, there are other characters within the Trump pantheon, but Miller is a survivor and wields much power with Trump. It becomes a bit thin towards the most recent events, but that is a problem all writers have with the pace of events and deadlines for publishing.
The underlying message, while not actually stated, could be summed up even as the polls indicate a Trump election defeat: do not count Trump out, his messaging may be racist, xenophobic, misogynist, narcissistic, and all the other negative adjectives one can find to describe him but, his base is solid, he is willing to deal with fear, and willing to pull out whatever tricks the Republicans can use in order to keep him – and them – in power.
Jean Guerrero’s Hatemonger is a timely publication before the election. It will lose its punch if Trump is defeated and goes, but will become even more important if Trump wins – a good look at the two personalities leading a declining nation.
– Jim Miles is a Canadian educator and a regular contributor/columnist of opinion pieces and book reviews to Palestine Chronicles. His interest in this topic stems originally from an environmental perspective, which encompasses the militarization and economic subjugation of the global community and its commodification by corporate governance and by the American government.