Ever grieve people who are still alive? They are here in body and spirit and they love you and you talk to them and mourn what was, what they once were? Or at least, what you grew up imagining them to be?
My parents are unrecognizable from the people who raised me. They are down a rabbit hole of disinformation and hatred and it's a fucking horror story. Every now and then there's a glimmer of the people I recognize, but it fades into ether too quickly to grasp onto.
I brought my daughters home to NYC to spend four days with them - we had the option for five, but honestly, I knew we wouldn't make it that long. My oldest daughter had enough after the night where their racism was in such full throttle that she had to walk away from them mid-sentence. I've never seen her so shook. I was able to make a graceful exit without acrimony because Sammi's terrible sleep habits in NYC gave me the excuse. Oh now, we have to leave really. Oh no, we don't need Dad to drive us home we'll take the train, because she's the worst on road trips. All true. Just leaving out the "Oh no, we can't spend 4 hours in a car with you, or another night, because every other sentence out of your mouth is more unhinged and venomous."
I explained to Niblet that my grandfather was a racist who constantly used the Yiddish version of the n-word, and refused to stop even when as a teenager I asked him to stop. He generally said terrible things and I came to accept he would never change. I hold on to all memories of him. They guy who I liked to watch TV with in Montreal and listen to old jazz records was the same guy who was would say insulting things to my obese grandmother about her weight.
I like to say the algorithm got my parents. But they're not so unusual. Look, there are maybe 70 million people in the US who view the world as they do. A world where economic equity is a grievance and fuck, the word equity is actually a Communist plot. What's difference about my parents is that until 2016, they viewed the world through an entirely different lens. They're not evangelical Christians. They've always supported abortion rights. But they're blinded into a hateful distortion of reality and they were captured by the algorithm as a result of deeply held racism that perhaps I was too eager to ignore or wish away.
The Viking has tried to make me feel better by noting that his own father could very easily have gone down the same path - had he been a few years younger and more inclined to go into youtube spaces where mendacious podcasters propagandize and the algorithm bounces you further into a deep sea of disinformation.
So, no, my parents are not so different from tens of millions of Americans. But, the betrayal I feel at their willingness to support the sacrifice the lives of the most vulnerable people in the country - such as the millions women who don't have their abortions covered by health insurance - it's just acute. It's the same betrayal that one of my trans friends feels when he visits his parents and they feed him and then say "we love you" and then vote for people who are trying to eliminate him off the face of the earth.
Did you know how many subreddits and online support groups there are for kids like me? Google "parents and fox news" oh, you'll learn. It's a comfort, I suppose, finding your people. My sister-in-law is one of them too. I recently told her I want her to come over here if she can ever get a day off, we'll relax on the back porch and stare at the trees and mourn our parents together.
I've got to admit, I hesitated to even draft this blog entry. More than one of you readers has noted that this is a journal of sorts, a diary of love to my children. It feels wrong to write these words in this space. But after the awakening my 13 year old has been forced to grapple with, well, if I hold the expectation that they may one day learn about some of the horrors I had to experience, surely they can absorb this.