Continuing our ‘Hard to Handle’ series, TPM Reader RL talks about the acculturating effects of two very different institutions: the US military and Fox News …
I’m sure you’ve heard many stories from your readers about kindly relatives who were racists. Mine go back a couple of generations. I was raised in a military family and despite the conservatism inherent in the military, socially (at least as far as race goes) it has always been reasonably progressive. By the time I was growing up in the 60’s it was fully integrated and my parents racial views more or less followed the military lead.
Other than comments about “good blacks and bad blacks” when comparing MLK to Black Panthers race was neither noticed nor much discussed. However, as my parents aged and my father passed away, my mother started reverting back to her 1940’s upbringing and racial views.
Once Fox News became a daily fixture then the flood gates were open. She would still be friendly and respectful to individuals of race but any reference to the group included the usual racial epithets. I don’t think the malignant impact of Fox News on the older population can be overstated.
Just an aside to the story your reader told of his kindly old grandpa. My grandfather was the kindest, most decent man you could ever meet. I never heard him say a foul word about anyone or anything. When I was 13 I broke my leg and was laid up for a couple of weeks and he would come to stay with me while my parents were working. We watched the 1969 world series together (Mets and Orioles). Pitching for the Mets was Jerry Koosman. The lead off hitter for the Orioles was an African American named Don Buford. The first words I heard from my kindly old grandpa when the game started was: “Come on you kike. Strike this nigger out.”. I don’t think he the slightest idea these were offensive terms, even to (or maybe especially to) a 13 year old. Different time.