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Family member enjoys degrading others

By Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: My family has become somewhat torn over the past few years over what to do about this issue.

Last year my adult brother openly declared his affiliation with an extremist political group and has taken to attacking members of my immediate and extended family over social media with degrading, misogynistic, racist and rude comments.

Most have either unfriended, blocked or ignored him. He will also bring up his controversial opinions during family gatherings just to (using his words) "antagonize" people.

My mother wants to keep lines of communication open so that it doesn't come to a point where the only opinions he hears are from people on the internet who agree with him.

The rest of my immediate family doesn't really want to put up with him, but we understand her stance. What do you think? At what point should we cut him off? Do you think there is any hope to de-radicalize him?

-- Hoping for an Uneventful Thanksgiving

Dear Hoping: I see your mother's point, too. Your brother has used antagonism to silence family members. Think about how easy it has been for him to alienate everyone who he fears has a different point of view. All he has to do is sling a few conspiracy theories and degrade people with hateful rhetoric in the easiest way there is -- through the cowardice of social media.

I completely agree with blocking him on social media. I also think that you should make a concerted effort to calmly "love" him through this and dispassionately present your own point of view to counter his.

Don't put up with put-downs, but do say, "Dude, you're my brother. I think your views are completely out there, but you have a right to believe whatever you want. What you can't do is be mean to family members."

Your family might do best to adhere to a politics-free policy this Thanksgiving.

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