Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:
I come from a big opinionated family. We had a Seder this year that
included some aunts and uncles who aren’t usually included. They
were visiting my folks and there was no alternative. To say it simply,
they’re conservative fat cats who believe in and stand for virtually
everything that our branch of the family opposes politically. They were
angry and bitter about the passage of the new health care bill, and
made several overt comments that went way beyond civil dialogue.
Frankly they were so racist and offensive that my mother had to take
me aside in the kitchen to calm me down and prevent me from saying
what I really thought. Now they’ve enrolled all of us onto a mailing list
for crap that verges on treason as far as I am concerned. Other than
unsubscribing myself, how do I respond?
Unsubscribe. And resist the impulse to return the rude gesture. Be
grateful you don’t have to see much of these relatives. Give money to
causes you care about that counter the arguments that you found so
despicable. Volunteer to work for them, learn their talking points, and
master the rhetorical skills you might want to employ if you’re ever in
a similar situation.
As for the relatives, if you choose to engage them in dialogue (by
email or phone), be prepared for them to last longer than you will
want to. Decide how much time and energy you want to devote to
countering, because you definitely won’t convert these folks. If you
conclude it’s hopeless, as I probably would, just send them a note
saying that you’ll happily see them at family functions in the future,
but that you have unsubscribed from their undesirable signups, and
simply won’t participate in any future discussion of politics with them
in the future. Last: vote and encourage your friends and colleagues to
do the same.