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View Diary: Losing Friends: The Poison of Right-Wing Radio (180 comments)

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  •  I had a friend like this. (7+ / 0-)

    We met when we both worked at summer camp in the late '90s. I was a Group Leader and he was one of my counselors. I was just starting my teaching career and he was a few years away, still in college. We shared a passion for baseball; each summer he and I and some others would go to Cooperstown on one of our days off. We created an intramural baseball tournament in camp that continues to this day. We only saw each other in camp, as we lived on opposite coasts, but we kept in touch via email during the year. He stopped coming to camp around 2002 or so, while I continued for a few years after that.

    He was a moderate/conservative who voted for Al Gore in 2000, his first presidential vote. We occasionally talked about politics over email, typically mass emails he'd send to all his friends, and while we occasionally disagreed it was always amicable.

    Then 9/11 happened.

    He immediately got sucked into the Fox vortex, eventually expanding to other right-wing and neoconservative outlets. He fell in love with The O'Reilly Factor and by 2004 was calling O'Reilly, quote, "the most objective person in the media."

    As time went on his mass emails became more and more aggressive and hostile, more and more tinged with what he was hearing on Fox and reading on Newsmax, FreeRepublic and WorldNetDaily, and containing more and more links to websites and articles representing farther and farther fringes of right-wing propaganda. Every now and then I'd ask him, politely, to remove me from these mailing lists and stop sending me this material.  He never did. Not only that, he started berating me for being "ignorant," "blind," unable to deal with "reality" and "facts" [every propaganda piece he linked to he'd characterize as "objective" and "factual," whereas anything I tried to refer him to was dismissed as "subjective"], and all the other standard right-wing tropes of the Bush/Cheney era. He could not tolerate anyone who "refused" to hate whoever and whatever he hated (i.e., that his trusted, "factual," "objective" sources were programming him to hate).

    He failed as a teacher in less than three years, because no one could stand him. He thought he was better than his more-experienced colleagues, that he was too good for the poor urban district where he was employed, he resented being criticized by other teachers and supervisors, he resented having to participate in and contribute to the teacher's union, and he resented his colleagues' rejection of or disinterest in his right-wing politics. He was fired, and told the world that he quit. (He later wrote a self-published "book," which was really just a sloppily-edited collection of his free-lance op-eds, about "how to save our schools from within," or somesuch, which essentially boiled down to two words: Vote Republican. How that qualifies as "from within" was never explained.)

    Eventually his mass emails, and his responses to me when I asked him to stop sending them, became not only angry and hateful but openly hostile and threatening. I imagine this was the case with others as well. About 5 years ago, someone reported him to his ISP for a TOS violation (spam/threats), and his email account was suspended. He thought it was me. He left several threatening voicemails. (I don't know if he did this to anyone else he might have suspected.) At one point I worried that I might have to get the police involved.

    I put this person out of my life at that point. I have not heard from him since.

    Disagreeing politically with friends and family is one thing. It's another when they're being programmed to hate you for it.

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