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My racist Grandad

(21 Posts)
lowra Wed 27-Jul-11 15:28:30

My Grandad is 86 years old. I have always known he has 'far right' views but when I was visiting last week he professed to having sympathy with the veiws of the Norwegian killer. He also made other highly offensive and racist comments that even the BNP would be ashamed of. I was disgusted, obviously, and have been thinking about it ever since.

He loves seeing me and my DD and I had talked about taking him and my Gran out for the day in the next week or so. My DD is just a baby so thankfully she doesn't understand what he's saying but to be honest I don't really want to take them out any more. More of a WWYD really? Anyone have any experience of racist relatives? I know age is not an excuse but they are getting old, are quite frail and my nan is not in the best of health. They love me and adore my DD and I love them, they are my grandparents.

should I just ignore the issue and avoid any 'contentious' topics. I have tried laughing at him, educating him, shaming him, and reasoning with him but he ain't gonna change and to be honest it's hard work!

thisfantasticvoyage Wed 27-Jul-11 15:31:21

I have some experience of this kind of thing.
People that old dont change so little to be gained by trying to educate or change them.
I'd just change the subject and avoid contentious issues like you say.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 27-Jul-11 15:32:25

Avoid talking about contentious topics.... Alternatively, remind Grandad (who will be old enough to remember) that a certain A Hitler would also have approved of the Norweigian nutter and look what happened when he decided to make a bit of a statement about national identity. Maybe Grandad used to be a black-shirt or something? Ever asked?...

BertyBurlington Wed 27-Jul-11 15:33:07

he was brought up in a different time and era

doesnt make his opinions any less valid i suppose, they are just his opinions. Agree to differ

DogsBestFriend Wed 27-Jul-11 15:33:35

Does he love you? Does he love your daughter?

And will you look back one day and think, "I wish I'd seen more of the people who loved me"?

Relatives of another age I'd be saying something different about but bluntly, chances are you may not have as much time with Nan and Grandad as you do younger relatives. Less time to 'educate' them... and less time to see them but a lifetime to mourn them.

I lost my beloved Grandad when he was 86. If only I and my DDs could have had more time with him.

Cheria Wed 27-Jul-11 15:34:22

Tough one - it is hard being around offensive family members. However he is old, unlikely to be around for that much longer and is a loving grandfather. I personally try and just accept other people's viewpoints, however abhorrent I may find them. As long as he doesn't try and teach your DD his opinions when she is a little older he really won't be doing anyone much harm (assuming he doesn't publicise his views too much!).

There is also the generational thing - back in his day racism was far more tolerated.

However, if he does say things like that feel free to tell him that you find it absolutely offensive and then move on. There's no point in trying to change him, it will only lead to bitterness and it appears tha tyou have a good relationship with him. Why spoil it at this late stage. You may just regret any fights you have later on, IYSWIM

OrdinaryJo Wed 27-Jul-11 15:39:02

I think this is a really tough one, my DSDad is a racist pig and has been told on more than one occassion that I won't stand for it around my DS. I think most of the time he keeps his mouth shut but the last conversation we had went along the lines of 'in a couple of years, DS won't want to come and see you because he is NOT racist and goes to school with so many children from all parts of the world, YOU will loose him because of your own words and I won't make him come to see you in these circumstances because I will be proud of him for standing up for what he believes in.'

I think though given your Grandad is so old, and your DD is so young, I would just try to keep the conversation on less contentious subjects.

lesley33 Wed 27-Jul-11 15:42:28

I have a very racist relative. She will openly say yes I am racist and proud of it. She is 83 and there is no way I will change her views although she knows I don't agree with her.

If he is fine with your DD in all other ways, then I would say to him next time he says anything racist - you know I don't agree with you, but I don't want to fall out with you, so can we not talk about this please.

If he is reasonable in all other ways he should hopefully shut up.

I don't care how old anyone is, it is reasonable to tell them you don't agree with them. But you are not going to change their views at this stage. So it really is best if teh subject is avoided by everyone.

And someone can have terrible views on one thing, but still be a generally reasonable and nice person the rest of the time. And racist views were much more acceptable in the past - when he was young his views will not have been that unusual.

CheshireDing Wed 27-Jul-11 15:44:35

My Grandad was like this and he was about the same age, he used to say "I am going to the Paki shop for my paper". When I got old enough to realise I do remember a few times telling him that:-
A - They were not from Pakistan, they were from India
B - Why could he not just say he was going to the paper shop?

It's an age/era thing. Really as others have said you are best to just ignore it, it will not change.

Just talk about something else and do not acknowledge it.

lesley33 Wed 27-Jul-11 15:44:46

Just to say if it is an issue, that with my GG Aunt I have said to her that I would like her to come to social things at my house, but she needs to not say anything racist because it will upset people there. She has agreed to it and stuck to it - I think because I was quite firm so she knew I wouldn't invite her again if she was racist.

lesley33 Wed 27-Jul-11 15:46:35

The "paki shop" was a very common phrase when I was young - and I am only 46. But people - even very old ones - can learn not to say something because it upsets you - even if they think you are wrong or being over sensitive.

lowra Wed 27-Jul-11 15:53:11

Thanks for your views, yes he certainly is from a different era, and he is a loving grandparent in other ways. His views are very extreme though. Things like 'they should be lined up against the wall and shot'. It makes me sad and confused. How can a man who so obviously loves his family have so little compassion for other families.

But yeah I love him and am aware that I won't have him around forever. Think I will just tell them how offended I am if the subject arises and quickly move on.

Becaroooo Wed 27-Jul-11 16:00:31

He expressed empathy for a man who killed over 80 people, most of whom were children????

Jesus.

That not old age.

Thats being a racist bastard.

LRDTheFeministDragon Wed 27-Jul-11 16:02:28

I don't think old people can't change. And I don't think it's an excuse. Racist views like those were widely considered disgusting when he was a young man - remember that war we fought in around 1939?!

I think you should say to him, you strongly object to his views and find them upsetting to hear. He's old; he's not stupid. Do him the courtesy of being straight with him. If nothing else, if he really wants to see you he could agree not to voice these opinions in front of you and your DD - just as he'd avoid any other topic that revolted you. To me that'd be the minimum.

lowra Wed 27-Jul-11 16:03:50

Yes Becarooo I know, that's why I described him as racist sad

Becaroooo Wed 27-Jul-11 16:05:17

What LRD said.

How very sad for you and your dd sad

emmanumber3 Wed 27-Jul-11 16:06:24

I would definitely just "agree to differ" on this one. You know what he is saying is wrong & why. You will clearly teach your DC that such things are wrong but your 86 year old grandfather is very unlikely to change his opinions now - even if you do have it out with him, as it were.

He is from a different generation & I am sure you will find a lot of his peers speak in the same way - sad as it may be to us younger generations.

I have had no grandparents myself for many years & even my own DCs have no grandfathers anymore - DD due in August will never have known any sad. I certainly wouldn't stop taking my DCs to see their otherwise lovely grandfather (if they had one) because they were racist though, but of course I would teach my children that his opinions were wrong.

minipie Wed 27-Jul-11 16:06:30

What about telling him what you wrote in your OP?

That you hate his views and you are thinking that maybe you need to stop seeing him (and stop letting your DD see him) if he carries on saying such things.

In other words, give him an ultimatum - either he stops expressing these views or you stop going to see him.

lowra Wed 27-Jul-11 16:07:02

Yes it is sad but my DD has loving grandparents of her own, who thankfully don't hold such abhorrent views.

aftereight Wed 27-Jul-11 16:09:59

I have, after years of discussions escalating into rows, learned to deal with my dad's racist views by telling him that I don't want to hear it, and changing the subject.
He sometimes makes incendiary comments just to get a reaction, and then I am torn between laughing (dismissively, at him trying to wind me up) and getting drawn into thinking he means it.

Brynn Wed 27-Jul-11 16:11:22

Personally, I would not feel comfortable in his company. I haven't seen my GD in years for similar reasons, and he's never met DS either. Not such a hard decision for me mind, since we've never been close, and I've never felt much affection for him (nor him for me I expect).

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