I am a peaceable person. By that I mean I avoid conflict and also I’m quite lazy. People generally appeal to me. I can see their good side. I sometimes have fleeting antagonisms: toward a waitress I feel is being too performative in her friendship with a coffee shop regular, or that woman on the subway eating a plum really loudly. But in general, I have a smiley face and at the risk of sounding bonkers, I make friends with almost everyone I come across. What I’m missing, I’ve come to realize after a summer of cookouts and heart-to-hearts and hiking trips, is an enemy.
Until I secure a worthwhile enemy, I cannot consider myself a successful grown-up. It’s sobering to consider why it hasn’t happened yet. Am I not important enough? Am I not fierce enough?
Every heroine must have an opponent who makes her better, stronger, nimbler than before. Who shall propel me forward on waves of bitter animosity? Crucially, I live in a chaotic time where people like me, people who usually bumble along unbothered, have to step up and stand for something. It’s not a hardening of the heart so much as a sharpening of the spirit.
So recently I closed my eyes and looked around on a deep level for who’s bothering me.
A phantasm emerged, and as it took shape I saw it was none other than Stephen Miller, waving at me cheerfully as he stepped into view. It’s funny, isn’t it? Sometimes what you’re looking for has been right there all along, shouting over women on cable news shows.
Mr. Miller is one of President Trump’s senior advisers on policy, and he served as his hype man on the campaign trail. On Friday, it emerged that in May, he drafted a letter firing the F.B.I. director James B. Comey, but the letter was too problematic to use. More recently, you could catch him haughtily disrespecting the Statue of Liberty and, it seems likely, hastening the end of DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, the most humane and sensible piece of immigration reform in decades. He wears skinny ties. He has a loud voice and quiet eyes. His obsession is immigration and how scary immigrants are. He blames us for everything.
I think he’s The One. Mr. Miller and I both spend our time thinking and learning about immigration. I am an immigrant and make a podcast about immigration, but he goes many steps further. He helps create our nation’s immigration policy. He was a big proponent of the first travel ban. You know, the grotesque one that tried to block Syrian refugees forever. I understand that he is stronger than I am, not physically, I’d imagine, but politically.
I do not know him personally and he doesn’t have a clue who I am. Perhaps it’s self-aggrandizing of me to choose him, but a real enemy should be a stretch. He is clever and works very hard. He has immense privilege. I watch him closely. I wonder how healthy it is, this new fixation on my enemy. Then I recall hearing animal experts say that getting a second cat, even one that your first cat despises, is a good idea. That’s because the second cat gives the first cat something to think about, and this mental stimulation is a positive thing; it can even extend the cat’s life.
I’m that first cat, getting tougher, more focused, maybe a bit immortal. “Miller,” I think, “where are you now? What are you doing? Are you using my litter box again?”