My Uncle is a white nationalist/supremacist. He’s married into the family through my aunt, and despite his offensive behaviors most of my family stills sees him as a good person and accepts him. I never really liked him all that much in general especially because he sexually abused me and potentially his daughter as well. But, despite knowing that he’s a white nationalist and that his daughter accused him of child rape when she was about 7, most of my family members still like him and are welcoming to him, even though he is now divorced from my Aunt.
This acceptance of everyone into our family, no matter how far down they are, is one of the cult characteristics of our family. And along with it comes the fact that people in our family will be nice and accepting even of the most abusive people just because they our part of “our family”. It’s definitely elitism at it’s worse, as if a person cannot be a bad person if he or she is part of the family. As part of this, my family will deny that a family member is a bad person or is doing terrible things to the extreme, even if they use the word abuse to describe someone’s words and behavior.
Still, people do estrange themselves from each other in our family if the abuse gets severe enough. Instead of this being a healthy act, though, it usually is followed by a bunch of drama with people taking sides. Both parties are still considered to be part of the group in general, and it’s not the same act as the healthy behavior of no or limited contact that counselors recommend with abusive families. It’s very much a shit-show. Even though a person might have a legitimate reason for estrangement, others in the family will try to talk that person out of it or try to mend the problem. So really, the type of estrangement that happens in our family isn’t usually the healthy kind.
So back to my Uncle who is a white nationalist. This Uncle attends white nationalism meetings, and last I saw his Facebook was filled with quotes and articles written by white supremacists. His daughter’s Facebook is the same, and she actually ended up marrying a white nationalist herself, who’s entire family seems to be seething with white nationalists. I’ve gotten into some terrible conversations with her husband’s family on Facebook that were full of racism and misogynist remarks/memes.
I don’t talk to these family members anymore out of principle and just because I can’t stand their offensive behavior and attitudes. But other family members do, even ones who proclaim themselves to be liberal. Again, this is the pattern of my family, which is that you just put up with each other’s behaviors as much as you can in order to maintain unity and cohesiveness within the group. People in my family say things like “that is just how she is” “this is just how our family is” in an effort to concrete this idea that we must support each other no matter what.
At some point, though, I wasn’t able to just sit back and watch family members basically act like crappy human beings. I started to talk back and complain about how family members were treating me. This resulted in a lot of lecturing from my family and scapegoating, sometimes in the form of “advice”.
So, as I said, eventually I just cut off from them. And I didn’t do it in the usual dramatic way that my family members usually do it. I just unfriended these people on Facebook and stopped calling them or replying to their attempts to get in touch with me. No big, emotional displays were needed or occurred.
I also want to share about my experiences with being brought to a White Nationalist/Supremacist group as a child. My Uncle took me to a few in order to, in his opinion, teach me about “truths” in the world and introduce me to the people who will “save our world”. I remember that it was extremely frightening, and the group used methods of ritual abuse to try to convert me into adopting their beliefs. But it didn’t work on me, even though it seemed to for my cousin.
In this group(s) the members really believed that they were chosen by God to bring change to the world. This type of change was basically to further the “white race” and do anything and everything to wipe out those who were not “pure” (minorities). They really believed in their “cause”, saw it as positive and saw themselves as saving humanity and spoke about bringing forth a “New World Order”. It was entirely disturbing. These groups saw themselves as chosen to bring forth God’s Will, which they saw as cleansing the world of the “impure” and “sinners”. Thus this white supremacy group was a mix between white supremacy and religion, as far as I can see. But, I really don’t have any experience to know if this is common in these types of groups or if it is specific to this one.
Of course, these views beget a very us versus them mentality within the group, and there was also a lot of black and white thinking about what is right and wrong. The group was very set on their purpose and in carrying it out. This included trying to recruit members into the group. In the meetings there was a lot of talk about God’s will and following God’s will and the messages of God, as well as adhering to the group. Also, there was very much a slant towards putting the needs and agenda of the group in front of the needs of the individual.
Basically, this white nationalist group was very obviously a cult. And, my Uncle himself was a minister and was one of the leaders of this cult. It was very scary to me, as child, yet I bet that even though I didn’t adopt the ideals of this cult that these few experiences might have made me vulnerable to AA later in life, but at the same time my learned resistance to mind control helped me to not only get out of it but not to totally succumb to many people’s “suggestions” to me. Even though I’ve talked about the many things and suggestions that I fell for in AA in other blogs, there actually was much more that I resisted. But this topic is another blog post all on it’s own.
For those of you have been in cults or in AA, especially those with religious overtones, this all might seem very familiar to you. What I’m finding in my reading is that religious based cults or ones that incorporate religion all tend to have some basic similarities: they think that they are fulfilling God’s will, they think that they have the one true path/best path to God (this group did), they think that they are changing the world for the best, and they might think that they are God’s chosen people. There is also commonly an us versus them mentality. In this white nationalist/supremacy group, this us versus them mentality was very strong and one of the main tenants of the group/cult.
My response to these experiences was to try to promote equality as much as I could throughout my life. Growing up I would stand up to bullies who were putting others down, especially if it was for race/religion/gender/sexual orientation. I also was willing to be friends with people who were different than me or were in minority groups. And in college I was an advocate for other students and participating in a lot of clubs and organizations within the college. Even my research on implicit prejudice towards Muslims that I conducted as both and undergraduate and all the way through graduate school was done partly in response to what happened in my family and to the disgust that I experienced in those white nationalist groups.
I consider myself lucky to have found the strength in myself as a child to not give into the thinking and beliefs that were thrown at me by that Uncle and some other family members who were racist/homophobic/misogynistic, etc. And, because I was able to resist mind control I bet that resistance is what kept me from succumbing to being a typical severely abusive member of AA (I believe that certain abuses towards others are taught and promoted in AA). I also wonder if I did have a level of resistance throughout my time in AA that I wasn’t aware of and still might not be. It makes sense that I did, though, because eventually I was able to break through the mind control on my own that I experienced there. I did have counselors help me with this further but the first break was something that I did naturally when I started to notice problems within the fellowship. Thus it turns out that all that torture that I went through as a child and that I learned to resist probably came in handy later in life. This doesn’t mean, though, that this is a good thing or that I’m happy that it happened. I’m not. I just know that I took those terrible experiences and seemed to be able to learn from them for better or for worse.
I hope that you won’t think less of me because of my experiences with white nationalism. I never wanted to go to those meetings and always felt uncomfortable with intolerant family members. And, as I said before, I no longer talk to the family members involved or really most of my family members in general, because even if they do not like what is happening they still condone it with their actions. The truth is that when this kind of thing happens within a group that the whole group is sick, even if only a few members are the ones who are showing unacceptable or deviant behaviors.
Thanks for reading! Hopefully you learned something from my post today.
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