Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Un-Civil War Or My Faux News Family

Futurist and Science Fiction author, David Brin, states the United States is in their third Civil War. There's nothing "civil" about the political divide currently in the United States. I know far too many people who've lost friends, even family over the difference of a single opinion.

I've lost two family members, so far.

1.  Cousin V went from a moderate to a neo-con with the turn of the 2008 election. I knew her physicist husband voted for Obama. We had pretty honest discussions about politics.  He said he was going to since he'd done his research and noted that Democrats restore the economy and reduce the deficit where Republicans do not. We definitely needed some recovery badly in 2008.

That's when the emails started. Understand V has a Masters degree in Accounting and she knows the value of research. She obviously didn't do any when the emails agreed with her prejudices.

I snopes pretty much everything that comes in my email. I sent her corrections, which she ignored.

Seeing as she felt free to fill my inbox with her prejudices, I sent something to her regarding a statement of Glen Beck's which I disagreed with.

Her response:  "You are too liberal to be friends with anymore." 

Friends?  We were family before that. 

T, her husband, who was quite ill at the time with brain lesions, understood my reasoning precisely and said that he and I could continue talking via another email. So, I continued to send emails to him, but never got an answer.  He wondered why I wasn't corresponding. I advised him that I was. When I asked if V had access to the emails, he said "no." 

I continued to send get well cards to him, a couple a month, and I sent a sympathy card when he passed.  I hope he got the cards. I spent time and money trying to make sure he knew someone cared about him and was hoping the best. I never knew whether she gave them to him or not. That's on her. I tried.  V. never contacted me except once more.

She sent a completely fictitious email about President Obama. I didn't bother to Snopes it. At that point, I figured I was off her list anyway. Then, someone else on the list did fact-check and sent the correct information via REPLY ALL. 

Her response:  "I guess I wanted it to be true so I didn't bother to look it up...."

2. I knew Uncle H was a racist since I was six or seven. I remember a long ride back from my grandparents with him and my Mom back in the Sixties where he ranted about Dr. Martin Luther King and H. Rap Brown and wished both of them would get shot. He used language my mom said I should never use, but she never corrected her little brother and when I asked she said, "He's a grown man, honey, I'm not going to change him...You know better."

I don't remember exchanging more than cursory conversation with the man.  He talked to my Mom. If I answered the phone, he'd ask for her and I'd get her. He was busy and I got the feeling he didn't want to deal with someone else's kid, even if it was a niece. 

The emails started shortly after the election. I'm not sure how Uncle H even got my email. I can't say I'd send a thank you note to whoever provided it. 

I snopesed and sent him the correct information. For that matter, I even tried to engage him in conversation asking how his family was, etc.  He never replied. He just kept filling my email with stuff he hadn't bothered to research which -- from my sampling--was lies.

I finally emailed and said, "Look, if you want to talk about your family, about your experiences, etc., I'd be glad to listen. I'm not interested in politics, particularly if you are not going to do any kind of research..."

Half a dozen emails of the same ilk as before the next day.  I set his email on "JUNK" and walked away. 

It disturbed my Aunt J (his younger sister) that I'd done this.  I advised her, he wasn't sending anything personal to me.

"He's my baby brother and he's just always been kind of a brat," she said. I wondered then if his older sisters had called him on it if he'd have been so much of a brat. I don't know.  I could have asked Mom that or just about anything, but Aunt J was not in a state I could do that.

Nothing he'd even written, just forwarding garbage. Still it made her cry and I felt sorry I'd admitted it.  I did check the email at that time. Same old junk. Sadly, he sent the same email to me at least three times in some instances. I was just on a SPAM list. 

3. Cousin G is someone I admire very much. Okay, maybe not her research skills or her paranoia, but she walks the walk of her faith. She's served as a church organist, a Hospice Chaplain, and volunteer and done more work to help the needy than many folks I know.

The same emails started after the election. Heck, she even started her Christmas cards with: 

"I'm disappointed in the election...."

Yes, she believes every wrong word she hears about President Obama and the government. Sadly, she's let racist language slip, too.

The difference is, she actually reads the research I do and thanks me for part of it.  We're still friends and I think occasionally what I say to her makes a difference. She actually asks me questions sometimes and I do my best to research them and show her my work so she knows that I actually am not just spouting an unfounded opinion.

And -- I have told her what my Mom thought about a lot of issues. She always respected Mom as a well-educated and a thinking person and when she hears what Mom used to say to me back -- fifty plus years ago growing up some of her anger goes away. 

Yeah, I hate that we're dealing with the same issues and the same racism and hatred we dealt with when I was growing up. I have my Mom to thank for me growing up as a thinking person who does their research and believes in equality and justice. 

The one difference between Mom and me is that I am speaking out to my elders--her peer group--and saying what I think. Uppity, I suppose so, but do we change the world by being silent?  Sometimes we have to do it by presenting facts and not allowing people to just be "bratty" or "difficult."

R. M. Kyle, May 2015

1 comment:

  1. Well said. I've lost a few friends over the same. I give a warning when Facebook posts start spouting hate, linking to Snopes. If the behavior continues, I message with "Sorry but for my own peace of mind, I need to let you go."