Episode 74 with Memoirist and Journalist and Dogged Pursuer of the Truth, Jean Guerrero, Author of Hatemonger: Stephen Miller, and Crux: A Cross-Border Memoir


Episode Notes and Links for Episode 74 with Jean Guerrero


      In this episode, Pete speaks with award-winning journalist and author, Jean Guerrero. The two talk about her writing and life inspirations, her charismatic and intellectually-curious parents, her work on her incredible memoir, and writing an in-depth piece on white nationalist Stephen Miller.

Jean Guerrero is an award-winning investigative journalist and author of Hatemonger: Stephen Miller, Donald Trump and the White Nationalist Agenda. Her first book, Crux: A Cross-Border Memoir, won a PEN Literary Award. Her writing is featured in The Best American Essays 2019. She is an Emmy-winning border reporter, contributing to NPR, the PBS NewsHour and more. Months before Trump’s family separations captured national attention, her reporting on the practice was cited by members of Congress. She started her career at the Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones Newswires as a foreign correspondent in Mexico and Central America, trekking through mountains with coffee smugglers, opium poppy producers and more. She was the 2019 “Journalist of the Year” (Society for Professional Journalists, San Diego) and one of the California Chicano News Media Association’s most influential Latina journalists in the region.


Buy Crux: A Cross-Border Memoir


Buy  Hatemonger: Stephen Miller, Donald Trump, and the White Nationalist Agenda


Jean Guerrero's Personal Website


Jean Guerrero Interview with Terri Gross and NPR’s Fresh Air


Stephen Miller’s Dystopian America” from March 2020 in the New York Times


At about 2:30, Jean discusses her childhood in San Diego, specifically her relationship with language, including how speaking Spanish was often maligned in political circles


At about 6:15, Jean and Pete connect Jean’s seemingly disparate books and shout out former Chills at Will guest Gustavo Arellano’s well-made LA Times’ podcast on Prop 187


At about 6:50, Jean responds to Pete asking about how her father influenced her learning and writing


At about 10:30, Pete and Jean reflect on the loss of language and cultural connections due to restrictions against speaking foreign languages in schools, which leads to Jean quoting the great Reyna Grande’s ideas on “subtractive bilingualism”


At about 12:20, Jean references a pivotal event in Maria Hinojosa’s memoir that connects to a similar “crossroads” for Jean 


At about 14:00, Jean details how she is a combination of both of her parents’ philosophies and skills


At about 15:55, Pete asks Jean if she “saw herself” in what she read as a kid; Jean talks about how white male-centric literature has influenced her-she mentions the article she’s currently writing that examines this “premium the culture places won white male perspectives”


At about 18:40, Jean discusses fantasy and sci-fi reading as a “refuge” and connecting with outcasts


At about 20:05, Pete connects the ideas expressed by Jean about books as refuge, as he discussed in a bonus episode of the podcast-an addendum to Episode 32


At about 21:15, Jean discusses the formative The Liars' Club by Mary Karr and The Devil’s Highway by Luis Alberto Urrea, read in her teacher Steve Brown’s class


At about 23:15, Pete and Jean hone in on the unforgettable scenes that depict deaths in the desert of those trying to enter the United States, as depicted in Urrea’s book


At about 24:10, Jean further lists some writers and texts that have given her “chills at will,” including Isabel Allende’s Paula


At about 27:10, Jean describes the structure/format of her book in relation to the Popul Vuh


At about 28:55, Jean describes the cultivation of her writing skills and interests that eventually led to her becoming a stellar journalist and writer, including great boosts from


At about 31:45, Jean talks about Hatemonger and its inspiration, particularly US’ policies regarding the border and immigration  


At about 35:35, Jean delves into Stephen Miller's need to exclude and exact revenge, as evidenced in her book, including the opening; this leads to her outlining his childhood and adolescent behavior and ideology 


At about 40:50, Jean touches upon discussions with psychologists about Stephen Miller and why she didn’t choose to include those interviews


At about 42:30, Jean discusses the special significance and obsession of 9/11 for Stephen Miller and the “refuge of white identity” that came with listening to and communicating with David Horowitz, Rush Limbaugh, Larry Elder, etc.


At about 44:40, Pete compares Tony Soprano to Stephen Miller (yes, you read correctly)


At about 46:30, Jean recounts the statistics about crimes committed by undocumented immigrants that belie the false premise that American Renaissance and Stephen Miller put forth about the immigrants being more prone to crime


At about 47:45, Pete asks Jean her thoughts on the “normalization” of Stephen Miller; Jean talks about him being covered as either an “aberration” without historical context, and/or not calling his views what they are-white racist, nationalist views


At about 52:30, Jean examines Stephen Miller as the logical extensión of Richard Spencer and similar people “mainstreaming” white supremacy through their dress and use of “dog whistles”


At about 56:35, Pete asks about who needs whom more-Stephen Miller or Donald Trump


At about 57:55, Pete wonders what questions Jean would have asked Stephen Miller if she had been able to interview him


At about 59:20, Jean and Pete discuss Stephen’s family situation, in which his great-grandmother railed against forgetting the family’s US’ origins as refugees; this leads to a discussion of the vile Camp of the Saints that Stephen continues to push 


At about 1:01:25, Jean describes the coldblooded phone call Stephen made as a kid to former friend Jason Islas


At about 1:03:20, Jean discusses Crux and its origins and challenges in terms of the quote “to ignore the truth is to deny oneself”; this leads to Jean describing the process and emotions associated with jumping into such personal subject matter, including hard, but necessary, work at Goucher College with mentor Suzannah Lessard


At about 1:06:25, Pete talks about Crux as, “in the best sense of the word, ‘unclassifiable’ ”


At about 1:07:00, Pete and Jean discuss the moving scenes in which Jean’s grandmother details traumas in her life


At about 1:09:10, Jean outlines self-discovery in connection to the origins and history of her family, as well as the power of writing the memoir and her gratitude to her teacher Steve Brown for inspiring her


At about 1:11:00, Pete details some masterful writing by Jean regarding existentialism and “nothingness” and the distinctive experiences of children (especially the girls) of divorced parents


At about 1:14:50, Pete notes the second-person usage of Part IV of the book, and Jean explains the rationale for the usage 


At about 1:17:30, Jean gives the background and rationale for the title of her memoir


At about 1:19:43, Jean reads an excerpt from Crux, a second-person address to her father


At about 1:21:06, Jean reads an excerpt from Hatemonger


At about 1:22:55, Jean talks about her exciting work upcoming for The Los Angeles Times as a new columnist, including her desire to debunk misinformation, as she’s seen how it has hurt her father so badly

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I’m excited to share my next episode with Marcos Breton on Aug 28. Marcos writes for the Sacramento Bee, and is California Opinion Editor for McClatchy Newspapers.

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