Dear Prudence

Help! My Mom Is Sharing Nazi Memes on Facebook.

Dear Prudence answers more of your questions—only for Slate Plus members.

Woman looking shocked at her laptop with a big pink facebook popup behind her.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by HbrH/iStock/Getty Images Plus.

Q. My mom’s memes: My mother is a Trump supporter. and that’s OK, I guess—I can live with that. But I think she’s been radicalized by the people or material she’s been interacting with online. She just shared a meme on Facebook that blames ethnic minorities for provoking white anger with their “baseless” claims of racism, etc., and says “we’re not going to take it anymore,” or something like that. Bad enough, but there’s a skeleton wearing a WWII German army helmet at the top of the meme, and part of the text is in a Deutsch Gothic font, which is sort of a giveaway. There’s no swastika, but the message is clear. Do I report her to Facebook for sharing racist hate material? And then what?

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A: Yes, reporting racist hate is a good first move. Your second move should be to tell your mother that you disagree with her racism. You should disagree with her strenuously, and more than once, and without mincing your words. Don’t tell her what you think you can “live with” as if her commitment to racist violence is an ongoing negotiation where she can get you to agree to tolerate parts of it as long as it doesn’t get too public or ostentatious. Banish “That’s OK, I guess” from conversations about your mother’s racism.

Nor do I think you should waste too much time and energy worrying about what people or material she’s been interacting with online; she wasn’t forcibly zapped with a racism ray that brainwashed her. She chose to spend a lot of time online bolstering her racism by talking to a lot of other racists. You may not be able to inspire an overnight change of heart, but you have the power to make it less comfortable for your mother to express her racism. Make things very uncomfortable for her!

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