This is my first diary and its going to be long. I’ve been mulling over something that happened to me for almost a week now, I thought I’d become less angry and disappointed, but I just can’t get over it. Fox News is destroying my family. You think I’m exaggerating; I’m not. Watching their decline is like watching my own decline when I was an addict. Except this time the drug is propaganda and lies.
First, a little background is necessary. I come from a fairly typical, conservative, middle-class Protestant family. (How they got stuck with a progressive, pagan, recovering addict daughter is a mystery to us all!). My dad worked for the government for about 30 years, for everybody’s favorite big brother, the NSA. He took early retirement and has a pension for the rest of his life. My mom does real estate – still – and never worked a full-time job after the kids were born. Typical white, privileged family who don’t know how incredibly lucky they are.
My parents, nevertheless, were decent people. Typical conservatives: unintentionally selfish and unaware of their privilege, but not bad people at heart. They were casually racist in what I considered a passive, mostly harmless way – by which I mean they considered themselves superior to people of color, but in spite of that underlying belief, they treated others kindly. They still tended to meet each individual as an individual, regardless of the person’s race.
(As an aside, I don’t actually believe any racism is harmless. I only mean I considered the attitude just a vestige of their upbringing in the pre-civil rights era and it didn’t seem to prevent them from treating everyone fairly. They were never hateful to persons of color, they were just sort of semi-consciously "superior.”)
Sorry for the long back-story, but its important for context about what upset me so much.
The details of the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Night below the orange Fox-scrambled brain:
Last week, I went over to my parent's house for dinner. It was the day of the Oregon school shooting. Fox News was on – Fox News is ALWAYS on.
I generally NEVER discuss politics with them anymore, not since the 2008 election, if I can possibly avoid it, because they have become more and more strident and less and less anchored in reality. But the tragedy of the Oregon shooting seemed uncontroversial to me so I made the mistake of saying, “It's so sad. Another school shooting. I read today it's the 45th mass shooting this year.”
Obama was on-screen giving his response at the time. And my father starts complaining that “he’s getting ready to say something bad, something about gun control.” And I'm surprised, I kind of sarcastically reply, “Yeah, and that's a CRAZY idea.” (Not terribly diplomatic of me).
My dad starts screaming, actually screaming, that “gun control won’t work because the criminals won’t follow the rules and will steal guns or buy them illegally.” That really irritated me after the 45th senseless shooting, so I replied, “I’ll bet you money this shooter legally acquired the gun he used.”
Well, that REALLY set him off. He starts screaming at the TV that he “hates that fucking n***r, he can't stand that man, he'd like to take a gun and shoot him in the head RIGHT NOW.”
Our president. Spoken by a lifelong civil servant.
I was speechless. Angry, disturbed, and very disappointed.
First of all, he’s not a gun person. He actually does own a gun - an antique rifle from my granddad. I don’t think that he’s ever shot a gun recreationally in his life. Secondly, my dad was never a yeller. Lastly, he worked for our government for 30 years, so expressing the desire to murder our democratically elected president, even hypothetically, seemed beyond the pale.
My mother chimes in that HER problem with him is that he’s a Muslim. Beyond the obvious fact that if you say you’re not a Muslim, you’re not (and how else could you prove it anyway?), it wouldn't matter if he was. I said to her “You have problem with him because you think he’s a bad president. It wouldn’t matter if he was Muslim if he was a good president, right?” – vainly trying to get her to base her objections on some kind of factual basis, however misguided.
She agrees, “Well, he’s not a good president!” I think we're getting somewhere here. I say, “OK! Then its NOT because he’s Muslim, its because you think he’s a bad president, right??”
“No, it’s because he’s a Muslim.” Well, alrighty then. Case closed.
The point of this long-winded rant is that THESE ARE NOT MY PARENTS. These are pod people. Hate-filled, fearful, bigoted, willfully ignorant pod people.
Their level of discourse, their understanding of the issues of the day has declined steadily over the years as they have watched Fox's daily propaganda. And their belief that they are the only ones who know the "real truth" has increased proportionately. Obviously, this has been exacerbated by a more virulent racism than I was aware of, but the tone of Fox “News” encourages and blesses latent racism and acts as a hothouse for it grow larger.
These are people who I used to have spirited but intelligent political discussions with. That’s gone now. Those people are gone.
In all other ways, they remain competent, functioning adults. My mom still works, they both are very computer-literate and active. Yet they believed that Dearborn, Michigan was under Sharia law. They believe that Planned Parenthood is selling baby parts for profit. They believe our President is a Kenyan Muslim Socialist.
Fox news IS propaganda, very dangerous propaganda.The harm it has done and continues to do cannot be overstated.
Thanks for listening. I just had to get this off my chest.
Thu Oct 08, 2015 at 9:54 PM PT: Holy cats! Listed on the REC sidebar? Thanks Kossacks! This community has kept me sane over the years. Thanks for the support and understanding!
5:54 AM PT: Everyone, I can't thank you enough for all the great discussion, ideas and support. It really has made this a lot easier to bear, at least I'm not alone. That's something!
10:25 AM PT: Really, top of the recommended email?? I'm speechless again, for a good reason.
10:26 AM PT: Plus, this made me laugh: "Haikukitty, did you know our top story in today’s e-mail was written by a first-time diarist? It’s a powerful, first-person blog post about the author's right-wing parents. Read it, and then log back into your Daily Kos account and write your personal story."