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It Might Be Time To Cut My Right-Wing, Trump-Loving In-Laws Out Of My Kids’ Lives

3 2 0
21.08.2019

“I don’t understand why anyone lives in Los Angeles,” my mother-in-law said to my husband over the phone a few months ago. “It’s full of immigrants.”

This offensive “observation” was not a stand-alone comment. It was only the latest in a series of bigoted sound bites from my in-laws. Both in their 70s, they live on Florida’s Gulf Coast in a predominantly white, older community saturated by conservative talking points. They see themselves as tolerant, life-loving Catholics. But their tolerance extends only to people they know and understand ― and those people are white, straight, “American” people.

Actually, it isn’t just racism that muddies the water in my relationship with my in-laws. It’s sexism and homophobia, too. Sometimes, it’s even veiled anti-Semitism. (Note to non-Jews everywhere: telling a Jewish person how much you love Jewish people is, on its face, a message of marginalisation.) My father-in-law once had to leave the room when two men kissed on TV. “Disgusting,” he whispered under his breath, within earshot of my son.

My in-laws have always been conservative. They have always been Republican. But, before 2016, they were Catholics devoted, specifically, to the “problem” of abortion. That was the issue they cared about, and it was the issue that ignited their ballot box passion. What my husband and I have witnessed, however, has been an ideological shift, from a relationship with religion to blind idolatry.

In the past two years, fuelled by a president who “tells it like it is,” my in-laws have said a spate of problematic, objectionable and, often, straight-up hateful things. My sweet mother-in-law, who cries at the very notion of a dog’s death, wanted to know why Senate hopeful Roy Moore’s teenaged accusers didn’t come forth with their claims sooner, thereby dismissing their claims. When my one-year-old threw a tantrum and I accused him of being a “drama queen,” she gently corrected me: “It’s drama king.”

My father-in-law clucked when, in a scene in the movie Moonlight, an impoverished Black drug dealer pulled up in a decked-out low-rider. It was an expensive car, and my father-in-law wanted us to know that people of that sort were always spending above their means. “That’s just what they do,” he said, shaking his head. “That’s just what they do.” He meant Black people ― all of them.

In the past two years, fueled by a president who 'tells it like it is,' my in-laws have said a spate of problematic, objectionable and, often, straight-up hateful things.

For a while, my husband and I tried to rationalise — if not excuse — my in-laws’ beliefs. They’re older, we told ourselves. They don’t know that the world has changed. But eventually it became impossible to keep exonerating them. For the most part, my political contact with them was passive-aggressive ― heavy on the aggressive. I directed Facebook posts at “any and all Trump supporters, including family members,” but I didn’t single them out specifically.

That was before.

Then, shortly after Heather Heyer was run down and murdered by driver spurred on by fellow white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, and after the president said that there were “good people on both sides,” I sent my mother-in-law a text. As a Jewish woman with half-Jewish children, I wanted her to know that her support of a president who says incendiary, race-baiting things affects people like me. It affects my kids.

In a winding, wending message, I told her how Jews have been targeted since the dawn of time, and how the particular brand of hate espoused by white supremacists, and, tangentially, the president, was pretty familiar to me; I had experienced it my entire life. It was likely her grandkids would, too. I was hopeful that a human connection — that the world through the eyes of a real, live liberal (and her daughter-in-law, no less) and not just a Fox News caricature — could convince her that words and actions matter. I was hopeful that she might show courage in the face of an obvious wrong.

“Thank you for your........

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