Dick Lehr’s White Hot Hate is a testament to “doing the right thing.” Dan Day is a law-abiding Midwesterner who believes in his right to bear arms and that a small government is a good government, but he in no way buys into the racism and Islamophobia of the far-right. When he becomes an informant for the FBI he’s taken it upon himself to do his patriotic duty and inform on a group of extremists in Garden City, Kansas set on attacking a group of Somali refugees.
The book excels in many ways, as a piece of true crime and a sociological investigation into American politics. Lehr achieves this through researched details and a focus on context. A writer could easily jot down the timeline of actions, but the focus of this White Hot Hate is the WHY? What is happening in the United States that creates this climate of anger and suspicion? Lehr connects these actions to other crimes and extremist groups to show how widespread this hate is in our nation.
The presidential election was heating up in early 2016 and anti-immigrant rhetoric, especially against Muslims, was being heard from many candidates but Donald Trump was the loudest. And for many of these men and women, he was the opposite of the Democrat currently in the White House. Trump and the extremists he irresponsibly endorsed brought this hate to the forefront of conversations all over the dark corners of the internet.
Hulu has even turned the story into a documentary that is currently streaming. Check out the trailer.
My only criticism is that parts of the book become a bit repetitious as Day follows the routine of meeting with the milia members and then with his handlers… back and forth…
White Hot Hate is a book that covers so much ground about right-wing xenophobia in its 400 pages. An objective view of radicalization… and the small community of Somali refugees who are almost victims of this hate.
4 out of 5 stars.
Thank you to NetGalley, Mariner Books, and the author for an advanced copy for review.