I've read quite a few diaries by others who have right-wing parents and the disruption it causes in their relationships. Most recently I found solace in this one: They Failed As Parents.
Now, it's my turn because tonight I reached my boiling point. My father, who will celebrate his 80th birthday this year, and I have a rule: No politics. We do not discuss politics, and we do not send each other emails about politics. My father has a problem following the rules. Today I received an email from him. The exchange of emails deteriorated quickly.
It started with this email from my father:
Subject: Hitler finds out that Scott Walker won the recall electionI clicked on the link and when I saw what it was, a video I'd seen before, I just closed the window. I'm guessing somebody just edited it to have something to do with Walker's win last night. I don't know. I didn't watch it. Maybe it's just the same video as before. Who cares?
Since my father brought up Hitler, I thought it was appropriate to point out another bit of news in my reply.
Subject: RE: Hitler finds out that Scott Walker won the recall electionTo which, my father found it necessary to send me this:
And where was Mitt Romney on that very same night? Why he was having dinner at a home that displays:… on a third wall, two original paintings of a European city scene by Adolph Hitler.I can just hear the explosion of outrage from the right if it had been President Obama dining at that home last night.
Outside, should Romney get an opportunity to wander the grounds, is a garden of tyrants. Crow has collected busts and statues of famous dictators of the past, which he displays with a certain elan on the lawn. There’s a head of Stalin, a rare statue of Fidel Castro, a towering Lenin and various other bad guys expropriated from their countries of origin.
Subject: RE: Hitler finds out that Scott Walker won the recall electionI saw RED!!!! What did he think Romney was doing at that man's house last night? It's okay for Romney to have fundraisers, but not President Obama? What? Citizens United didn't give the Republicans enough of an advantage? And the disgusting imagery? And the Donald Trump demands for birth certificates and college records? Seriously? This is what's important. President Obama got Bin Laden. President Obama saved the Auto Industry, but we now need to see his college transcripts? Who is this man sending me this garbage?
I know where Obambie was – he was over flying WI on his way to CA for another three fund raisers.
What I want to see are the heads of Rev Wright and Bill Ayers. Not replicas – but the real things on pikes. I will provide the pikes.
Why can’t we see Obambie’s grades? Why can’t we see what he did as the head of the Harvard Law Journal? Why can’t we view his birth certificate – not the photoshoped version?
What is his plan for the economy. Clinton and Summers say he should extend the Bush tax cuts. Get real – the Demons are being defeated by their own. Don’t you love the way the Demos practice cannibalism? I do!
I immediately responded with a rant, but thought better of it, and deleted it. I gave myself time to calm down. I sat on the couch and watched an episode of CSI.
I started to craft a more tepid response, telling my father that if he ever sent me another political email I would cut him off and never have any contact with him ever again. But that didn't soothe me a bit. How many times have I told him that before? I started expanding here and there, and instead of a response to my father, I ended up writing this letter to Dear Abbey which I sent to my father as my reply to his last email:
I don’t know what to do. I love my father very much, but he’s been watching Fox News for several years now, and he’s been brain washed by its propaganda. And even though you and I know that recent studies have proven that people who get all their news from Fox News are the most misinformed people in the country, there is no convincing my father that they are telling him anything but the absolute truth. He’s become their pawn and I fear that my father’s Republican Overlords are more important to him than me.
If my father took the time to learn my opinion, he’d know that I think that the majority of the leaders of today’s Republican Party promote the vilest, most racist ideas to instill hate and fear in the citizens of this country. I have watched them obstruct progress for the last three years and do every thing possible to destroy the economy of our country in order to keep one man from keeping his job for another four years. Last week after the Job Numbers came out, they got in front of the cameras and demonized President Obama for the dismal numbers. And then what did they do? Did they go back to Congress and get to work on legislation to help solve the problems? No, they went right to work on another piece of abortion legislation. Where are their priorities? The Party that claims to be about small government does nothing but try to pass draconian laws that invade the privacy of the citizens of this country. Yesterday they voted against an equal pay law. Now, it doesn’t make much difference to me because I no longer work for a paycheck, but one day it’s going to make a difference to his granddaughters when they are paid less for doing the same job as a man. It saddens me to think that one day those beautiful, intelligent young ladies will be paid less than a man (that they are probably smarter than) because the Republicans denied them the tools to make sure that employers treat their abilities for doing the same job equally.
I don’t trust the Republicans. Look what they’ve done to my father. They turned him into somebody so filled with hate; I can’t even have a civilized conversation with him about anything going on in the world. Nobody can. If somebody doesn’t agree with all the twisted lies he’s learned on Fox News, then he resorts to yelling, temper tantrums, and even worse, character assassination. This is not my father. What did they do with my father? I’m beginning to think that it is possible that those diabolical Republicans swapped my father for this hateful man. The man I’ve been talking to is an imposter. My real father is living a great life in Paris, where he has intelligent conversations and spirited debates about a multitude of topics and he never assassinates the character of the person he is debating. He listens, and reasons, and uses logic to counter opinions he does not agree with. He is nothing like this man who sends me disgusting emails full of hateful speech. My father would not do that. My father knows that kind of language is just a strong expression of a weak mind and that a reasonable tone and fact-based arguments are the only way to change another person’s mind.
It’s really so sad that in the sunset of his life, my father prefers to spend his time consumed with hate and anger, instead of talking honestly with his daughter or even caring who she really is or what she really thinks. He was a good, supportive father when I was growing up, and must have done something right. My sister and I grew up to be honest, loving human beings. However, my father has failed miserably at being my equal as a human being. My thoughts and opinions don’t matter to him. Why did he raise me to be an independent thinker if he didn’t want me to think for myself? Does he really want me to be an empty-headed zombie who cowers in fear?
I do have one fear. I am afraid for my father, Abbey. What can I do to get through to him? How can I make him see that all this hate and anger is destroying our relationship to the point that I don’t have anything left to talk to him about except perhaps the weather?
UPDATE: I don't even know where to begin to reply to this response from my father.
I am writing you in defense of the daughters father.
The following facts apply to him.
He no longer loses his temper – he is dying and has at most one or two years left in his life and is deeply disturbed by how the current administration is moving to turn this country into a socialistic nation on the models of the European countries.
He does watch FOX news channel and FOX Business channel but also spends most of his time reading articles published on Lucianne .com that publish articles from most of the large metropolitan cities including the NYT Boston, Globe, LA Times, SF Chronicle, Politico, ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC and other sources from Brieitbart’s web pages. I just recently discovered on this last source that Obama was caught lying again – he was, in fact, a member of the Socialist New Party. So if her father has been brainwashed by Fox, he has looked for answers from the other side of the political spectrum. Maureen Dowd, like my daughter is dreaming of a superhero.
He does admit to having low tolerance to factual inaccuracies published in any publication. As an example the NYT’s referring to Zimmerman as a “White Hispanic” or showing Travvon Martin as an eleven year old cute kid when in fact he is 5’11”, 158 lb individual who smoked blunt on his way back from the 7-11 on the night he was killed (What the Media Choose Not to Know About Trayvon). He also has a low tolerance for Bill O on FOX for his bloviating commentary.
He has made mistakes in his near 80 years of life but he has never stopped loving his daughters. He has made it a habit of helping them in every way he could in spite of the demands of his 20 years of service in the US Army. He paid for their education, purchased their autos, paid for their weddings. He is also loved by his community, except for one neighbor. I must note I am aware of mistakes that my daughters have made in their lives but I choose not to dwell on them.
I note also that if you substitute “mother” or “stepmother” in the daughters Dear Abby letter her accusations would apply to them except they would never yell or raise their voices. The fact is that mother and stepmother (who loves the daughter as her own) held and do hold the same political views as her father.
He is a believer in the constitution and the freedoms it provides us and its protection from government big and small. I believe in the bill of rights especially the first and second amendments and reject the assault the current administration is making on both. I believe that gunrunning government agents do not have the right to sell guns to Mexican drug runners and then deny the congress to investigate the killing of a boarder agent. He does not believe that the EPA has the right to impose rules and regulations that will kill carbon based energy sources.
He is willing to discuss any subject with his loving and caring daughter. She can pick the subject and provide what facts she has to present her arguments in a calm manner. He promises to do the same.
Thank you for taking the time to respond to my defense of the daughters father.
UPDATE #2: First, thank you to every one who has taken the time to respond to my plight with your helpful suggestions as well as your own stories of dealing with the disruption politics have caused in your own families! I have read each and every comment.
I have to point out one comment by DrLori, where she indicates that Fox Geezer Syndrome by David Frum should be required reading. Evidently, even Republicans have suffered from the abuse Fox viewing has inflicted on their families. Who knew?