Here’s something (not) to look forward to: Thanksgiving dinner with your family in the time of Trump.
This week you’re heading home to spend quality time with your family. Of course, your right-wing brother-in-law (RWBIL) is going to be there, spouting off quotes from Trump and Rush and fully Foxified. Actual facts will not be present at this table and would not penetrate the Drudge-shield if they were, but conspiracy theories will abound. Brace yourself.
Starbucks Is Anti-Christian
Don’t be surprised if your RWBIL immediately gets right in your face, loudly proclaiming, “Merry CHRISTMAS,” with an emphasis on “Christmas” and jumping on you if you dare say, “Happy Holidays.” He has not just finally gone crazy, there’s a (crazy) reason he will be doing this. Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and the rest of that crowd are telling him (and telling him and telling him and telling him – you know how they repeat things) that Starbucks is anti-Christian because their traditional, seasonal red cups are … red this year. But they took off the snowflakes and Santa Clauses, etc. So obviously Starbucks is part of the liberal “war on Christmas.”
The right-wing cure for the “war on Christmas” is to make everyone say “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays,” and feel all victimized if they don’t. People who are Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, atheist, vegetarian, etc. – they are obviously all liberals.
Climate Change Is A Hoax
Your RWBIL is absolutely going to claim that climate change is “a hoax.” You see, it’s snowing somewhere, so obviously the planet could not be warming. In fact, these days it’s possible you are having one of those once-a-century storms again this year, which, to him, proves that the climate is not changing. All of those scientists who say the climate is changing are getting money from “the government” which is of course paying them to “destroy capitalism” by impeding oil company profits.
This year there’s a good response. You see, it turns out that Exxon’s own scientists were warning management that their product is helping to cause our planet to warm “catastrophically,” and that if this continued it “could eventually endanger humanity.” But Exxon chose not to tell this to its investors or the public. Instead the company and others funded a massive campaign to use the “tobacco model” to turn people against their own government and deceive people into thinking the “science is uncertain” and the “jury is still out,” or even that “climate change is a hoax.”
So let your RWBIL know that even Exxon’s own scientists are warning that we must stop putting carbon into the atmosphere.
Your RWBIL is going to claim that “tax cuts increase revenue,” taxes and government “take money out of the economy,” and that budget cuts (which actually take money out of the economy) and the resulting layoffs of teachers, police, and other public employees will “create jobs.” Just roll your eyes at these. It won’t do any good at all to look at what actually happened when right-wing governments have done these things, actual facts will not penetrate the “Fox Effect” and the “Drudge Shield.”
Here is one you can try, though. When your RWBIL says that so many people are on food stamps and other public assistance because they are lazy and don’t want to work, and then says the “real reason” the unemployment rate is low is that the “Obama Economy” is so bad that people have given up looking for work. You can just ask him, “So which is it? Are there jobs that people won’t take, or is unemployment really higher than they are reporting?”
You can also ask if all those people would still be on assistance if the minimum wage was raised to $15 an hour.
OK, I have bad news for you on this one. Thursday might be a very unpleasant day if the subject of refugees comes up. You’ve probably seen or heard what is going on – the Republican Party has taken a very, very, very dark turn in recent weeks. In the past conservatives have expressed anti-immigrant sentiments, saying things like they bring in “diseases.” Remember how they even turned on Central American children who were fleeing violence at home?
But since the Paris attacks (the attack on Beirut doesn’t count) the right has turned in a scary new direction. First they began to demand that the country turn away refugees fleeing from ISIS – bad enough. Even “moderate” Jeb Bush has said that we should only allow “Christians” to enter the country. Chris Christie said not even orphans under age 5 should be allowed in.
Then they began to turn on Muslims already living inside the US. Front-runner Donald Trump called for closing down mosques and making Muslims “register” for a “database” to “track them” – and be issued a special ID that identifies them by religion. Second-place Ben Carson echoes this. Rubio said we need to close down any place where Muslims gather.
To understand this dark turn, here are a couple of examples of the stuff saturating the right-wing echo chamber:
Your RWBIL likely reads online conservative outlets that are carrying anti-Obama and anti-Muslim trash like this which appeared Tuesday from the conservative mainstay publication Human Events, “Exposed: Obama’s Love for Jihadis and Hate for Christians“:
Obama recently lashed out against the idea of giving preference to Christian refugees, describing it as “shameful”: “That’s not American. That’s not who we are. We don’t have religious tests to our compassion,” loftily added the American president.
Accordingly, the administration is still determined to accept 10,000 more Syrian refugees, almost all of whom will be Muslim, despite the fact that some are ISIS operatives, while many share the ISIS worldview.
Your RWBIL probably has also seen a very dark propaganda video (or one like it) circulating on the right. Warning: This video has a similar theme to the 1940 Nazi propaganda video “The Eternal Jew.” Refugees are depicted as violent, parasitic hordes of “military-age” males, swarming over barriers and infiltrating society with the goal of taking over.
The video is titled, “With Open Gates: The forced collective suicide of European nations.” Again, before you watch it be warned that it is foul, racist propaganda. But RWBIL is likely to have been exposed to it. Donald Trump appears at 13:36 to say the refugees are “prime-time soldiers.” Just watch the next few minutes after that to get an idea of what has gotten into RWBIL’s thinking.
What To Do?
There is no point trying to respond. The Foxification, Drudgery and Rushitis is strong in that one. Saturday Night Live ran a comedy skit with one suggestion:
So bring along some Adele on your phone and turn it way up when RWBIL starts talking. But what do you say when you don’t have Adele?