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To think my Dad has been radicalised?

(416 Posts)
Februaryrat Wed 15-Feb-17 13:50:44

My Dad was a teacher back in the day. A Guardian-reading, mostly apolitical teacher.

He has a (hate to use the word) redneck friend in the USA whom he Skypes regularly, and whom I believe has radicalised my Dad. Over the last three years, my Dad now believes:

- Climate change is a hoax (obsessive hatred of windfarms)
- Hilary Clinton is a murderer
- Brexit is the way forward because some of "them" (mostly Romanians when pushed) are committing 70% of offences around here (they aren't) and the press isn't allowed to report on nationality of offenders (they are)
- The NHS is being brought to its knees by health toursits
- Trump is a businessman who is likely to give the USA exactly what it needs, and will be re-elected to great acclaim at the next election.
- The Mexican wall is a good idea
- Why don't more Muslims condemn terrorist attacks?

I am a hard-left feminist, who is finding it harder and harder to have conversations with him that don't end in mud-slinging.

His "source" of news is often what I would consider to be conspiracy websites. I am willing to accept sources of news from anything I consider reputable - and would consider any mainstream media including (spit) the Daily Mail, but the websites he comes up with seem to me to be run by nutters spouting nonsense.

As a previous teacher in a subject where critical thinking and reading was key, it astonishes me that he isn't able to see past the bullshit - but perhaps he thinks the same about me in my left-wing bubble.

Anyone else's parents been radicalised? Any hope, or do we just have to stick to conversations about the weather now? Shit, we can't even do that because of climate change.

VestalVirgin Wed 15-Feb-17 13:59:16

Have you tried telling him that there actually is a group that commits 90% of crime and it is ... men!
Perhaps we should build a wall to keep men out.

I can't help you, my father is pretty moderate in his views and I still have failed to change his opinion on, well, anything.

Even guilt-tripping him by reminding him that the laws he agrees with could negatively affect his daughter doesn't work, but with my father, it is just his stance that abortion should remain illegal (but unpunished under certain circumstances), not support for a president who has openly admitted that he likes to sexually molest women and who is, more likely than not, a rapist.

icanteven Wed 15-Feb-17 14:01:35

My Dad is remarkably similar. Left leaning until about 8 years ago and now at 72 you simply can't discuss ANYTHING political with him.

He shut up about immigrants when I pointed out that he paid his college fees and bought his first house with money earned by coming over to England with thousands of other young men to do utterly shit jobs and bring home all the money and isn't itWONDERFUL that society still works in this MARVELLOUS way that allows everyone to get a start in life? Etc etc.

He reads and the Daily Mail but at least believes me when he asks how so many people in England are on 80k in benefits a year & I explained about the DM's inexplicable demonisation of the poor.

We don't have hate press in Ireland so he assumed that everything the dm says is true. confused

Oh I could go on. It's awful.

I pay for a sub to The Times now so that at least some of his right wing info is properly researched.

msrisotto Wed 15-Feb-17 14:02:54

My father too has some unpleasant views, although he doesn't know any Americans. I wish I had an answer, but honestly, we've become distanced. I can't talk to him about anything because I don't want to hear his bigotry, so I avoid him.sad

Rugbyplayersarehot Wed 15-Feb-17 14:06:36

His views are daft but his views are his business as yours are yours.

Avoid arguing over them as neither of you will change your opinion and it's pointless.

Concentrate chatting about what you do agree on.

Politics and religion is a family mine field I avoid like the plague

icanteven Wed 15-Feb-17 14:09:35

In my Dad's case it started with climate change & how it's all a conspiracy.

However, he has recently quietly distanced himself from his vociferously pro Brexit position after being very impressed by the UK ambassador to the EU and being stunned and hurt Theresa May's unforgivable and inexplicable refusal to address the Irish parliament the other week when invited. I have told him that Brexit might force me to get British citizenship, which gave him pause.

Headfullofdreams Wed 15-Feb-17 14:10:28

I sympathise op. Politics is the elephant in the room when with my parents. Only since last year. The daily mail is to blame.

DameDeDoubtance Wed 15-Feb-17 14:18:50

I avoid talking politics with my family, there just isn't any point. They believe everything that mail spoonfeeds them. sad

It's sad but it's who they are, they've always been tory voting and very right wing, I'm the anomaly.

Birdsgottaf1y Wed 15-Feb-17 14:22:10

I always use the analogy as to why font more men picket outside courts when there's a sexual crime, that is partly being put down to being 'tempted/enticed', or a lack of sex. To answer the question "why aren't Muslims protesting.

I'm finding the Conspiracy Websites impossible to ague against and they're very dangerous in the way that they are shaping people's views.

samG76 Wed 15-Feb-17 14:23:08

OP - when you say you're a hard-left feminist some would think you've been radicalized just as much as your dad. Maybe he's put a similar post on (grand)dadsnet....

RainyDayBear Wed 15-Feb-17 14:24:41

My Dad lives in the US (ironically as an immigrant). In ten years he's gone from voting liberal democrat to a Trump fanatic and spews similar views about climate change, immigrants, the wall with Mexico and muslims. I've called him out on his Islamophobic racist nonsense on Facebook a few times as it just disgusts me. We didn't get on before this, but at the moment I'm ashamed to be his daughter.

Wolpertinger Wed 15-Feb-17 14:25:50

My ILs have gone from pro-European, Ted heath supporting Guardian readers to pro-Brexit immigrant haters.

For my MIL it's largely due to leading a very sheltered life and never meeting any young people.

For my FIL it turned out to be the first sign of dementia. He is also massively vulnerable to any sort of phishing scam, doorstep scammers and so on.

However neither of them can see that the DM has changed from a rightwing paper that used at least be factual, to an unreliable news source. They struggle to navigate and assess any sources and just think if it's 'on the internet' it must be factual.

Puzzledandpissedoff Wed 15-Feb-17 14:34:21

Admittedly his views appear a bit hardcore, but then maybe he feels the same about your own "hard left feminism"?

IME one kind of extremism tends to breed another, so unless you can both agree to disagree maybe it might be best to just avoid flashpoint topics?

LauraMipsum Wed 15-Feb-17 14:36:02

Yes, my DF used to be a small-c-conservative, very liberal, very critical thinker.

The stuff he now spends all day reading online is horrendous bullshit that his self of ten years ago would have laughed at like a drain, much of it about Islam. Yet now he just seems to be swallowing it all wholesale. We used to both enjoy political debate - we didn't always agree but we were both good at defending our positions without descending into animosity - but now any challenge, however gentle, results in the sulks. (Sulking was something we were Never Allowed To Do as children.)

I don't know if it's radicalisation, depression, a possible minor stroke, old age or what, but it makes me sad.

Megatherium Wed 15-Feb-17 14:37:58

It does seem odd that someone with a lifelong experience of critical thinking would abandon logic in that manner. Even if you're very naive about the internet, it's usually reasonably easy to see the signs of batshit conspiracy theories. I don't want to be alarmist, but is there any possibility of early signs of dementia?

PyongyangKipperbang Wed 15-Feb-17 14:38:40

My father is not quite as bad as yours but similar, and I have noticed he has got worse over the last 2/3 years. As far as I am aware there is no outside influence on him, apart from the Daily Hate, which leads me to think that he has always had these leanings but kept them to himself.

It is a worry because he doesnt see, as posted above, that the Hate is not a factual paper anymore but a way to whip up hatred and ill informed opinion.

I have to admit that some of the things he has come out with lately marks a real change and does have me wondering if there are dementia issues starting sad

Allthebestnamesareused Wed 15-Feb-17 14:39:13

RainyDayBear. - are you actually me?? I could have written tge exact same post about my Mum who is a Brit living in Ohio - now a US Trump voting citizen! I too have called out her bigoted fb posts which seem to confuse muslims/immigrants/refugees/terrorists as all the same!

Embarrassing to say the least.

AllTheBabies Wed 15-Feb-17 14:40:33

Scarily it seems to be quite a common thing to happen as you get older.

My Fil is the same, it drives dp up the wall and is really spoiling their relationship.

FannyWisdom Wed 15-Feb-17 14:42:36

Maybe it's a confidence thing too.

My own DF is systematically banning himself from places, I. E. I can't go in town to the bank because of X pickpockets and the other bank has Y hanging around mugging.

Something I could never imagine even a few years ago.

Februaryrat Wed 15-Feb-17 14:45:01

It is good to hear I'm not alone (albeit tinged with sadness that others are going through this).

It's hard to avoid debate entirely. If I mention schools for the children, he'll talk about the number of immigrant children in the area taking up places and talking in their own language (we live in leafy suburbs).

If I talk about which bin to put waste in (i.e. recycling) I get a lecture about how all our recycling is sent to China and is less efficient than just throwing it away.

It is very hard to find a topic that doesn't have political ramifications.

When I say I am a hard-left feminist, I don't swan round the house shouting, "Death to the patriarchy" (though I do think it sometimes). It's more about believing that gender is mainly a social construct. When he found out I was pregnant with a (second) girl, he asked me if DH was upset, as "Did he hope to have someone to play cricket with?"

I put my Dad straight immediately on how girls can also play cricket and may have called him a sexist prick.

He was always such a gentle soul, and I now find his vitriolic anger towards people, most of whom he never meets (Muslims, Eastern Europeans, Mexicans), really unpalatable.

It's hard just to agree to disagree as he presents things he has read as hard facts, so I feel obliged to debunk them - at which point, like a PP, he sulks, saying I'm being inflammatory.

I did wonder about dementia but he seems OK otherwise.

samG76 Wed 15-Feb-17 14:46:57

and the hard left and far right agree on lots of stuff anyway - dislike of Jews, conspiracy theories, corporate excess, etc. This is why Corbynites keep getting called out for posting quotes from far-right websites. I would have though you would agree on quite a lot.

wettunwindee Wed 15-Feb-17 14:49:32

I am a hard-left feminist

Hard anything, including hard-left is ignorant and blinkered. See Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot.

Hilary Clinton is a murderer

Nope. Rape apologist but I don't think she's killed anyone.

the press isn't allowed to report on nationality of offenders (they are)

They are, they just frequently choose not to. They are occasionally stifled (rapes in Germany) but usually self censor.

Brexit is the way forward

I voted remain although am 50.000000001% in favour of remaining. I nearly abstained.

The NHS is being brought to its knees by health toursits

Nope, by red tape and centre-left governments.

Trump is a businessman who is likely to give the USA exactly what it needs

In some ways he is correct. I hope Trump becomes a limp-duck president, held back by bureaucracy and less populist members of the American political system. Re. trade deals and protectionism, it's / he's what the US needs. It's what the UK needs and like him or loathe him, a Trump-led US could be exactly what the UK needs post-Brexit.

who is finding it harder and harder to have conversations with him that don't end in mud-slinging.

You have a degree and a post-grad (you're a teacher). I'm fairly sure you can think of topics other than the weather and politics.

Willow1997 Wed 15-Feb-17 14:49:50

I'd love to comment more but all I can say is that my highly intelligent father is more radicalised in his opinions the older he gets. He used to be more easy going and understanding and tolerant of other people and their views but less so as he advances towards his twilight year. I noticed this soon after he retired.

Fairyliz Wed 15-Feb-17 14:53:23

Hate to tell you this op but it will happen to you. I am in my 50s and I have noticed all of my elderly relatives are heading this way. I'm also a lot less left wing tham I use to be as a young woman.

saoirse31 Wed 15-Feb-17 14:57:22

So because your fathers views change and you dont agree with them, your first thought is to think he might have dementia?? dont want to shock you but hes entitled to his views, in exactly the same way you are.

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