We are past another family holiday, Mother’s Day, and yet again, a certain dark phenomenon was present. Horrifying right-wing politics are dividing families, and causing a lot of pain.
Several people I know experienced it over the Mother’s Day weekend at various gatherings for the holiday. They are reeling from having gone through it.
Unfortunately, and not to beat a dead horse named Pet Peeve of Mine, the kneejerk reaction by some is to weirdly defend the bad behavior, as if the far-right ranting attacks are not really the problem, but the reaction is. The targets of these rants often get lectures about “you have to remember they are family” and how you have to keep quiet to preserve peace. I certainly understand all that, but the blame here falls mostly on the right-wing.
These fights are not over estate taxes or zoning laws. These are daughters, brothers, friends, uncles, nieces, cousins, etc. hearing relatives screech that immigrants should be killed, homeless people should be murdered, sexual assault makes you a more appealing candidate, and so on. For LGBTQ+ folks, this includes having these so-called loved ones tell them that their marriage should be illegal, or worse, they should not be allowed to live their life. These are things that are deeply offensive and hurtful and highly disturbing coming from the mouths of people close to you.
This is the logical progression of the last 15 years of social media and right-wing outlets. The excellent podcast Your Wrong About, which looks at moral panics, public hysterias, and general myths, covered the loss of elder relatives to Fox News. A lot of people have seen it happen in their own families over the last 20 or so years, but recently it is taking a darker turn.
For a growing number of Americans, it is no longer arguing around the Thanksgiving table that is the biggest problem, it is these relatives doing something horrifying like murdering a person out of paranoia. I have friends who have shared stories of right-wing MAGA relatives threatening them. I know of one who had to tell his mother that he can no longer visit on holidays because an uncle will not shut up about how he and his husband deserve eternal suffering in hell and making vague statements about “you better enjoy life right now because things are gonna change fast.” Even for someone who is simply hearing a normally kind relative suddenly share extreme, hateful views, it is still very difficult.
As is too often the case, the poor behavior gets the benefit of the doubt and the onus to make the peace lies with the target of the attack. The wingnuts are firing the first shots, so to speak, and demanding that the targets of these attacks to keep quiet and just take it does nothing other than enabling the attacks to continue. You get things like Company Man Anderson Cooper lecturing people about siloes because they happen to be upset about platforming a sexual assault enthusiast the day after he lost a sex abuse case.
Cooper: You have every right to be outraged today and angry and never watch this network again. But do you think staying in your silo and only listening to people you agree with is going to make that person go away? pic.twitter.com/xzVEgaGeDT
— Acyn (@Acyn) May 12, 2023
We should not be trying to “understand” the right. Those of us who are not enthused about sexual assault and insurrection returning to the Oval Office already know what the right is about. We see it and are alarmed and are trying to fight it. Cooper represents a side of the media that has done everything in its power to reach out to Trump voters and has done very little to reach out to the people traumatized and hurt by him.
Fox News fed our loved ones mind poison, and now another major network, CNN, seems to have its back. One America News, Newsmax, various Youtube outlets, Facebook groups, and other “media” sources have metastasized it into a spreading cancer. Again, this is not arguing over tax law. This is about deeper, much more disturbing stuff. This is about loving democracy and wanting all Americans to have a good life, and hearing loved ones angrily share delusional, murderous nonsense. This is wondering about what those relatives would do if our democracy collapsed, fearing what they might be capable of, and making political debate personal on a profoundly deep level. It is no longer sufficient to state things like “it’s just politics” or “you can’t judge people based on their politics.” Not when things like the very question of democracy, whether it is okay to murder homeless people, or the right of existence have become political.
Here’s to the people who right now feel sadness about losing a loved one to raging, hate-filled madness. They are deserving of so much more sympathy than they are currently receiving.
The last word goes to Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit.
5 thoughts on “When Right Wing Media Kidnaps Your Relatives”
This is well written piece. I especially like this part,
“As is too often the case, the poor behavior gets the benefit of the doubt and the onus to make the peace lies with the target of the attack. The wingnuts are firing the first shots, so to speak, and demanding that the targets of these attacks to keep quiet and just take it does nothing other than enabling the attacks to continue. ”
I wrote a piece yesterday about what I did about the horrific comments coming from RW media.
What can we do instead of going after the family members who have been fed mind poison? Go after the people feeding them the poison. Go after their revenue stream. Even though it’s morally repugnant, I knew saying, “These hosts should not talk about torturing and killing people.” would be ignored. I was told, “If you don’t like it, change the channel. You aren’t forced to listen to it.”
One of my goals was to interrupt a platitude I heard used by the left, “I don’t like what they have to say, but I’ll defend to the death their right to say it.” Fine. So I said, “The hosts can say what they want, but there are sponsors who don’t want to support what they are saying. Advertisers have a choice. They can choose not to associate their brand with violent rhetoric. The hosts can keep saying certain things, but they don’t have to get rich saying it.”
Here’s the whole piece:
That is 100 percent spot on! I will defend to my death the right for people to have the choice not to support things they find horrible.
“For LGBTQ+ folks, this includes having these so-called loved ones tell them that their marriage should be illegal, or worse, they should not be allowed to live their life.”
Loved ones aren’t always loving ones.
whether it is okay to murder homeless people
My parents sent me to Saturday school to help offset the heathen things I learned in public schools. Maybe I mis-learned but it generally frowned upon to murder anybody. I don’t recall anyone telling stories of 4 yo shooting people back then either. Progress?
It is difficult not to respond to threats of violence with the same. But nonviolence is the common thread of both our country’s history and our present principles. The Republican Party not only does not support this principle, they censure their own members if they speak against those who espouse or deliver violence.
Before he was President, John Adams successfully defended the Redcoats responsible for the Boston Massacre. Law and order came first.
While our Declaration of Independence was certainly provocative, it was the British who attacked us.
President Lincoln knew that the seceding states had taken Federal property and arms. He ignored that because he knew those without true principles would attack first.
It is probably futile but my principles require that I just use my vote to oppose the violent. Because the Republican Party supports violence and has renounced every worthy principle in the quest for power and money, I can never vote for a Republican again.