(Nation World News) — The first sign of trouble was brief. Just a few comments during the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
Karen Emsden was chatting with her son in her driveway while picking up her grandchildren when she mentioned something about a quote from one of the most famous victims of the Nazis, Anne Frank, who had spoken about being caught in the Holocaust. and kept a disturbing diary before he was killed. ,
“He was like, ‘This isn’t real. The Holocaust isn’t real,'” Emsden recalls.
He thought his son was joking. Now he says it’s clear he didn’t.
Emsden is many things: a grandmother of two, a longtime social worker, and now in her 40s, she’s also a theater artist in her small Utah town. She also assures that she is the mother of an extremist.
This wasn’t always the case and Emsden says she still hopes to get back the son she grew up with, who seems to have disappeared.
“It’s complicated,” she says of how her son became estranged from what she described as a friend, who was arrested and tried to disrupt a pride event as a member of a Patriot Front extremist group. was accused of conspiracy.
“I’m looking for a solution or some advice for myself because I can’t seem to find the things I’ve tried,” he said.
A mother tells how a young pacifist embraced hate
It used to vary between Emsden and his son, Jared Boyce, now 27 years old.
“We were very close,” he said of his only son. Growing up in Utah, he was kind and loving and had friends from many different backgrounds and races, he said.
Emsden said he particularly struggled after his father left the family to live as an openly gay man. He recalls that his son’s relationship with his father became strained, though almost non-existent after his father’s departure.
What became most evident was Boyce’s apparent desire to find his place in the world.
“I don’t blame Jared for what he decided to do, but he has struggled to find approval,” Emsden said.
“At a certain point he was interested in Buddha. And pacifism. He’s even got a Buddha tattoo on his arm,” he said, adding that he had another tattoo that read: “Of hatred, anger and wrath.” Don’t lean forward.”
But hatred, anger and anger seem to be the place where it finally found its place.
Turning to the Internet in recent years when her marriage fell apart, Emsden said her son was taken to a group that radicalized him and made him feel he had to act to save people from evil. Will have to do
When Boyce was contacted by Nation World News for her thoughts, she responded to a video of a drag queen dancing in public in front of a large audience, before her dress was uncovered, exposing her legs. reproductive organ.
There was no message in the text. Boyce’s mother interpreted this as a symbol of her son’s belief that he must work with the Patriot Front to save children from being betrayed by homosexuals.
He acknowledges that this is a false and fanatical concept and believes he learned it from the Patriot Front, a white nationalist hate group that, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, is leading the deadly “Unite the Right” in Charlottesville, Virginia. “It was made after the rally. ,
Emsden says Boyce joined the online group in 2018 and has since tried to convince her that her online “sistership” is fair and good.
She says she has tried to replace him with the group’s manifesto, but she keeps telling him she has no interest in people spreading hatred against homosexuals, immigrants, black people, and others.
But he doesn’t know what to do.
Turning point for mother if not for son
Emsden had hoped that Boyce would disassociate himself from the Patriot Front when he and 30 others believed to be associated with the group arrested them in a hired truck with shields, flags on tall poles and a smoke bomb. was arrested after. Police charged 31 people with plotting to riot on the day of the gay pride parade in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
Nation World News has contacted an attorney representing one of the men, but has not received a response.
Boyce spent the night of his arrest in prison, and his mother hoped that it would serve as a wake-up call, that the group he was in was no good and that it would make him feel comfortable with his young children, ages 3 and 5. could keep away from ,
That weekend Emsden was raising her grandchildren, as Boyce said she wanted to go to the camp. But when he returned and she reprimanded him for his arrest, he found that his stance had hardened.
Instead of regaining consciousness, he was more determined than ever that he and his colleagues were doing the right thing. And it pushed Emsden to the limits of his patience.
He says that he has tried to make love to Boyce. You have tried to be patient with him. He tried to help her. When her marriage broke up, she gave her adult son a place to live. When he did not have enough, he was given gas money. You have tried to reason with him. He yelled at her. He says that he has argued and listened to her.
And now he can’t take it anymore, so he tells her to get out of the basement where he was staying.
“I’m not kicking her out of my house because I want her to suffer and feel sad and homeless. I just want her to feel where the love and support really comes from,” she said.
“It’s not coming from them. He thinks it is. But they’re not taking him in and helping him find a job,” he added to the men in his group.
“I tried everything. He chose the Patriot Front over his family,” Emsden said through tears. “It’s a slap in the face.”
Stay in touch, but set limits
Emsden says she is desperate to keep her family together, but doesn’t know how to bridge the gap with her son.
Psychotherapist Joseph Ma Pierre says that desire can be valuable.
“If we’re talking about family members or loved ones, I think the most important principle is just to try to stay in touch,” says Pierre, who has studied why people join groups for decades. He is a clinical professor of health sciences in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.
“So if that person decides later that they want to come back from the hole or make a change, there’s something to go back to.”
But he cautions that those who come close to someone who has been mired in hatred or lies should set limits on their mental health so they don’t get sucked in.
“I guess sometimes you can say, ‘Look, we’re going to have coffee, but we’re not going to talk about anything (stressful), okay, let’s go about other things. Going to talk,” said Pierre.
It may be the best or only option when family and friends become “true believers” in a cause and are unwilling or unable to challenge, he said.
“For the true believer, it’s not just faith. It’s about ‘I define myself based on that belief,’ and that’s when it becomes very difficult to undo,” Pierre told Nation World News. “At that level, it becomes very dangerous (to argue) because then people see themselves as a threat to the ideology, to the faith.”
In the early stages of radicalization of a person, when they may be what Pierre calls a “non-believer” who is not really connected, or is “inconclusive” when one is flirting with new ideas, other approaches may work. Huh.
There is no general answer because each situation implies a different situation that led people to that point, the psychiatrist said. Do they feel lonely, angry, anxious or scared? Could they need professional mental health support?
And while challenging beliefs can push people into their corners, offering alternative perspectives and evidence may be worthwhile if one is at an early stage.
Pierre suggests that people dealing with a troubled loved one find a support group where others understand them and there are even people who have left hate groups and extremists who can talk about it. Why they were drawn and how and why they changed their mind.
“If we are to hope that they will ever come out of the symbolic rabbit hole, we have to understand what led them to in the first place,” explained Pierre.
Traveling across the United States, I find families under stress
For most families, it is not extremism that entered their family, but political polarization that entered the equation and began to break their relationships.
I’ve heard several versions of this scenario in homes when I travel across the United States to do a story for Nation World News.
People whisper to me that her aunt is no longer spoken to because she is a “crazy socialist liberal” who rejects any idea that has any relation to conservatism. Others tell me they no longer invite their grandfather to be around their kids because he has turned into a “fiery Trump cult right-wing nut” who is spewing “xenophobic nonsense.”
Some Americans even let their lifelong friends go. He removed his acquaintances and friends from his Facebook and other social networks. He invited his colleagues to parties. All this because it is very stressful to be around them when they talk about politics, religion or anything else important.
You must have felt the tension yourself in social gatherings. Many people don’t know what to do and walk away. It is too exhausting and too toxic to try to heal this part of the world that already feels overwhelming.
One of the things that makes combating extremism and polarization difficult is the vast amount of misinformation now available to the public.
“We’re not dealing with the same set of facts,” says Pierre. “So when you try to reason with each other, you come from two different worlds.”
Here too, there are ways to bridge the gap, such as agreeing to disagree on issues that cause friction and moving on to other issues that can spark understanding and bring back the joy of being together. Huh.
But in any relationship that has been rocky, there may come a point where walking away may be the only way to preserve one’s sanity, Pierre said.
That’s not an option for Karen Emsden right now. He says that he will always love his son, but he is not the only one who worries about him.
She fears children, her precious grandchildren, and how they teach them to hate.
“They’re both wonderful kids,” Emsden says of the boys.
But his heart is broken when his father’s extremist beliefs are repeated.
“We go out in the car and (he) sees a rainbow flag and says… ‘My father hates rainbow flags. Rainbow flags are bad.'”