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I want to talk about what made a family member of mine who was brainwashed by Fox News & turned into a raging right-winger finally stop believing in what they were being fed & start seeing the truth because hey, maybe it'll be helpful for someone out there
I actually could talk about two different family members although one is further along than the other tbh
Anyway. This family member was pretty middle-of-the road before 9/11 happened. They're college educated, worked in STEM, spent most of their life in a reliably blue state. Experienced poverty & domestic abuse but through access to resources managed to succeed
When 9/11 happened, they started watching Fox News. I remember this clearly because we lived in the same house so I obviously....knew what was on TV. Fox became the ONLY news station they'd watch. It got so I felt like I was absorbing Fox News via osmosis. I was like 16
Their favorite topics that they loved pontificating on:
-how black/brown people were "stealing" from white people
-how white people couldn't access resources like black/brown people could
-how black/brown people were "bleeding our country dry"
This person was never religious. They didn't like when Fox News got too "bible-thumping." They never had a "problem" with queer folks & actually used to patronize a lot of queer art shows & exhibits.

It was about fear for them, & fear became black/brown people
And it was truly about race. Fox News told them there was a race war coming, and whites were already victims. That there would be nothing left for us if "the other side" had their way. That whiteness was "American" & everything else was like a leech on the country's soul
During the 2004 election they came out strongly for Bush EVEN THOUGH THEY DIDN'T LIKE HIM. They'd say over and over again how Bush didn't deserve to lead a contingent of plastic army men but he had to be president because otherwise none of us (whites) would be "safe"
When Obama became president, this person got worse. It was like a second 9/11 for them. It was evidence "the other side" was winning. The person never went full-on Tea Party but they came close. They were quick to say things like "nothing against black people BUT"
They didn't like Mitt Romney but they voted for him because Obama was "too soft," was "giving the country away," was "making it impossible for white people to succeed"

More Fox News.
When 2016 rolled around I noticed the person start to dial down the rhetoric. They HATED Hillary Clinton of course because of Fox News but having lived in New Jersey their whole lives they knew what kind of bumbling disaster Trump would be. They would say "oh he'll never make it"
When Trump got the nomination they dialed it down even more. "I can't vote for Hillary," they'd tell me. "So you're gonna vote for Trump???" "No, I'll just....I'll write someone's name in. It won't matter." Because our state always went blue. This person didn't want Trump
Trump won.

This person began weaning themself from Fox News. Little by little they'd get their news from NPR, or PBS. Never CNN or MSNBC, but not Fox. I realized they were EMBARRASSED. Absolutely embarrassed about what they'd ended up supporting. Embarrassed about everything
At first they'd say "oh he won't get anything done" and then he did.
Then they'd say "they'll kick him out, come on, they won't let him keep going" and then they did.
Finally they stopped making excuses
It became REAL.

Fox News allowed this person to believe they lived in some sort of performance....some sort of unreal place where there were no consequences for being part of this weird conservative counterculture that made them feel important & connected to a secret world
But they still couldn't embrace the Democrats. And in a lot of ways I understood that and I can still understand it.

So you know who she likes now??

I asked her why Bernie.

She said because he actually seemed to mean what he said. Because she couldn't stand being part of "nonsense" anymore. Because she was tired of everything feeling like "a bad TV show"
What ended up forcing this person away from Fox News was feeling embarrassed by recognizing they'd been lied to. By recognizing they'd been led to believe a person they KNEW was a bumbling fool was somehow "the answer" to all those us v. them scenarios Fox News had been running
Fox News relied on white fear post 9/11 and relied on white fear after Obama was elected. Fox News pushed white fear, that whiteness was somehow threatened and white people were not "the minority," "the victims," the 300 Spartans against hordes of black/brown people
And fear is powerful for whites. We white Americans have formed what "culture" we have based on the fear that those we enslaved, those we tried to eliminate, those we decided were not quite human enough would turn on us, do to us what we have done to them
White supremacy is a supremacy of soul-crushing fear. And Fox News's entire business model was translating that fear into a sense of community, a sense of belonging, a sense of knowing something no one else knows. A sense of being READY because its viewers understand the TRUTH
And the Trump administration has left Fox News viewers like my family member with a decision to make--to admit they were wrong or bear down and just be WRONGER because they can't admit it.
My family member is someone who was able to admit they were wrong because there was another option for them, an option that they found appealed to their anti-establishment instincts. And this isn't like a pro-Bernie or anti-Bernie thread btw. My feelings on Bernie don't matter
This is just an observation on a specific instance of someone I know realizing they'd been lied to and rather than ignoring that knowledge and going along with the lie, deciding to reevaluate their worldview and decide on a different direction
This relative is still not absolved of the racism that drove them to Fox News, a latent racism all white people have that can be activated by an environment of fear and enough voices telling them that fear is legit. This person is responsible for their racism
But they're also changing. They were talking to me about police brutality against black people a few weeks ago, a thing they didn't believe existed a few years ago. They were talking about Bernie & how we need healthcare for everyone and how black mothers are more likely to die
after childbirth.

So what made my relative able to change? Her education? Her experiences with poverty? The fact she works in a very diverse place? The fact that she was never religious, never lured in by American evangelicalism? Probably a bit of all of it
But shame and fear are powerful forces and how someone reacts to shame & embarrassment can go a long way to determining if it's possible for them to change
oh as sort of a coda:

this may be the one case where Facebook made someone LESS conservative lol. She had some friends who added her to some Bernie groups and that helped her really start reading about what Bernie was doing/saying
oh hey if you feel like it I rescue cats in southern Spain and if you wanna get something for my cats that'd be amazing:…
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