I dated an upper middle class White American in grad school, a fellow physics PhD student. For a year I accompanied her to her family's home for the holidays, to hear openly racist comments about her foreign friends and "brown"people, racially derogatory terms for American non-White people and religious rants (though the only thing religious about them was church weddings). When she stood up to them it resulted in complete disparagement of her personally, usually starting with "get a real job". She would come back depressed for weeks. I stopped going after a year, and it took another year for her to stop going. We started enjoying the "family" holidays with our friends, all those who couldn't or chose not to go back to their families.

Is this intra-family polarization a peculiarly American phenomenon? Does it arise from the two-party system and that one of those has been explicitly promulgating hate for 40+ years? Does it have to do with the "celebration" being everybody sitting around a table eating (unspiced sweetened food) for hours?

It is not that there aren't serious disagreements in India - my (Hindu, upper caste) family has and has had its share of communalists, racists, caste-ists and misogynists, not mention displays of every other kind of "ism" humans seem to have invented. But things have been more dynamic, there are more parties, for one, and their policies and relative popularities change in time and with geography, so people are not commonly life-long diehard "red vs blue". (With authoritarianism, fascism, Hindu supremacy and consolidation of power on the rise, things are probably different now.) Or it may be that holidays in India tend to be with extended family and it is not all about sitting in one place and eating for hours. Or that people weren't as "pushy" about their politics back then?

With most of my family, I can take it or leave it, with something like "Know that you aren't going to get a free podium for your hate speech. Please don't say anything ...ist like that anymore unless you are prepared to argue about it civilly."

Growing up in India, the one exception was my father's brother, recently returned from the US for a visit soon after the Union Carbide/Dow chemical explosion in Bhopal that killed 20-25000 and maimed twice as many. Somehow it turned into a disparagement of Indians, Blacks, Arabs ... and when I pointed out he was brown like me, he claimed he was "white" or "Caucasian"! His supremacy became narrower and narrower - amongst the "brown", Indians, but not all Indians, Maharashtrians, not all Maharashtrians, Marathas, then some subcaste shit I couldn't follow, then his family (mine!) but not his father, who was dark, just his mother, who was fair and blue-eyed. I disowned the fcuker, never looked back, and am pleased to say that others have now rejected his vileness.

I stop to miau to cats.

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