Being straight up blunt here, I’m starting this topic as a means of venting; if others want to chime in with similar stories, I think that that would be great. But I’m writing this because it’s better than picking up the phone and reopening wounds.
Short version: I’m wondering how many of us have lost friends and good relationships of all kinds because people on any end of the political spectrum find themselves unable to avoid being hyper-sensitive.
I had a very good friend, let’s call him Chris. We’d been good gaming and book buddies for, oh, about eight years. He introduced me to a dozen of my favorite authors and TV series, and we routinely watched various sci-fi and drama series and had excellent discussions regarding themes, plotting, characters and so forth.
However, I’m liberal, and he’s a dyed-in-the-wool Republican. And, one of the things that was the basis of our friendship was the mutual agreement to never discuss politics beyond a certain point, because there was no way that we’d be able to agree.
Just under two years ago, I inadvertently shared something to Facebook, after my mother was cajoling me to use it more often. It was on the ideological roots of the Tea Party being closer to the Confederacy than to the Founding Fathers.
And Chris went ballistic on my facebook page.
This is the moral and social equivalent of me posting a picture of your face photoshopped onto a Waffen SS uniform. It is offensive to a degree that I refuse to describe because the language required would destroy our respect for one another. I am assuming you are only posting it to elicit commentary and discussion; if you actually agree with what the linked post says then, well, I’m sorry, but it’s been nice knowing you.
I am a Jewish man who is the descendant of four Holocaust survivors, and he knew this. Using the rhetoric that I bolded pretty much immediately destroyed my remaining respect for him. So I politely replied that, yes, I did agree with it, and that, yes, it had been nice knowing him, but that that friendship was now over, as I was not personally accusing him of being a genocidal murderer of his people and that I could not forgive that statement.
Having called his bluff, he spent the next week trying to contact me to apologize, but… yeah. That’s not something you can really apologize for, especially when it comes with the explicit statement of “Censure yourself in your own space or lose my friendship.”
So I refused to compromise my integrity to maintain the friendship, and sent him a very polite email telling him that he had once been a good friend, but was now actively toxic, but thanking him for the books and games that he had introduced me to.
And now… now with the nomination of Der Trumper…
Now I am actively resisting calling him up and asking him if he supports his short-fingered tribal fascist that he resembles so much, because, perhaps, he might want to look in the mirror to see those lightning bolts on his shoulder pads.
So, yeah. Part of me wants to nastily twist the knife as much as possible, because that betrayal hurt, and now, with the nomination of Trump, I want to see how much of a hypocrite my former friend is, in much the same way that you stare at roadkill or a horrific accident, even though you know you won’t like what you see.
But I want to be a better person than that.
So, rather than cause pain for my own satisfaction, I’m sharing this, and also wondering how many others have similar tales, of friendships lost to the maw of hungry partisanship and tribalism.