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May I Disinherit My Right-Wing Daughters? NY Times says?

The Times really crushed it today. I agree! If my kids don't adopt my "reasonable" political beliefs and learn to think for "themselves" they get zilch else they're going to fund weapons of mass destruction to be used against my people. (the Far Right, I mean the Far Left...I mean the Branch Davidians).

But seriously, I find no humor in this (oops you caught me in a white lie, sorry that's racist)! I agree that the media is all definitely slanted right as the NY Times astutely tells me below and that conservatives are in fact "sinners".

Fav story quotes:

"A whole media apparatus aims to persuade people like your daughters to adopt mistaken views."

"Even if your daughters are, in some sense, more sinned against than sinning, you could reasonably worry that putting resources in their hands will allow them to support destructive causes. "

May I Disinherit My Right-Wing Daughters?

The magazine’s Ethicist columnist on when tribalism tears a family apart.

By Kwame Anthony Appiah

March 1, 2022

I’m 80 and in very good health. I have two grown daughters, both in their 50s, and a lovely granddaughter in her teens. A few years ago, I made my will for my estate to be divided equally between those three survivors.

Even though my daughters grew up in a very progressive household, they have embraced the opposite political side from me. My granddaughter hears all the talk in her family, and I feel sure she believes she is hearing the truth. One of my daughters also does not believe in the vaccine and did not have my granddaughter vaccinated. I do not discuss politics with them any longer. They get all their information from the internet and don’t read the mainstream press. The worst thing of all to me is that they believe the election was stolen.

I am distraught by this and have considered changing my will and leaving it all to a good cause. Name Withheld

Back in the late 1960s, when the “generation gap” gained currency, many families were divided over political questions, involving the Vietnam War, women’s rights, racial justice. Facts were relevant to these disputes, but at the heart of the matter were moral questions — e.g., When is a war just? Should social roles be assigned to people on the basis of sex?

One oddity about the present day is that many families appear to be divided over factual, rather than moral, issues: Did Joe Biden win the last presidential election? Are the F.D.A.-authorized Covid vaccines safe and effective? At the same time, people tend to regard those who disagree with them on these factual matters as not simply wrong but wicked.

The natural explanation is that these beliefs are badges of identity — the regalia of our tribes or teams — and come together with other beliefs and values. Proponents of the Big Steal and the benefits of ivermectin in treating Covid are inclined to think that their opponents are enemies of freedom who, among other things, want to flood the country with us burdensome immigrants. Loyalty to their side entails disapproval of those they consider its adversaries.

We can acknowledge that we’re all prone to tribalism (and that we all have false beliefs) without lazily supposing that the different positions are epistemically and morally equivalent. I’m on your side — and, when it comes to the particulars you mention, so is the evidence. Biden did win the election; Covid vaccines are remarkably safe and effective at preventing severe illness.

But there’s more to the story. A whole media apparatus aims to persuade people like your daughters to adopt mistaken views. Why they’re plugged into that particular feed is a question you no doubt have some ideas about. Maybe it has to do with where they live or the church they go to. A 2013 study that sifted through British and U.S. voting data going back to the 1960s concluded, paradoxically, that people who are especially politically engaged are more likely to have adult children who switch to the opposing camp. The study conjectures that “by facilitating political discussions at home, they make the offspring more attentive to the political messages of their times.”

Well, maybe. What’s clear is that your errant offspring have acquired the views that accompany certain identities or group allegiances, and that, by trusting unreliable sources, they have been led into error. That makes them wrongheaded; it doesn’t make them wicked. What’s more, our close relationships have many facets. A woman I know in your situation does what you do: She avoids talking politics with her far-right progeny. It’s not always easy, but there are plenty of other things to talk about.

So don’t change your will because you’re angry and upset with your prospective heirs. A better reason is that people with their views are doing a great deal of harm. The fact that a majority of Republican voters have been persuaded that Joe Biden wasn’t legitimately elected fuels a destabilizing mistrust in our democratic institutions. Hospitals have filled up with people who wouldn’t be there if they — or others — had been vaccinated, boosted and masked up. People have died or are living with Covid complications who would have been spared had more of their neighbors been vaccinated.

Even if your daughters are, in some sense, more sinned against than sinning, you could reasonably worry that putting resources in their hands will allow them to support destructive causes. Here’s a proposal: Why not leave some money for your granddaughter to use when she reaches adulthood — she might very well defect from her mother’s political orientation, as her mother defected from yours — and give the rest to causes you care about, perhaps including ones that are working to fortify voting participation and strengthen effective public health education. It’s your estate. You raised your daughters, which is what you owed them. Anything you do beyond this is up to you. But don’t think of your updated will as a way to punish them for their mistaken beliefs. Think of it as taking measures to prevent your assets from being used to bad effect.

When my late husband and his best friend were young men, they bought and renovated an apartment together. When the friend decided to get married, he sold his half of the apartment to my husband. Among the items that remained in the apartment were a pair of stone statues that had been built into the design of the kitchen — it was a very eccentric place! My husband sold the apartment some years later, when we married, and took the statues with him; they have been a focal point of our own house for a quarter of a century. We loved them dearly.

My husband died suddenly a few months ago, and in the turmoil of that traumatic event the statues have been for me a very poignant reminder of him, his tastes and enthusiasms and the fun we had together living in this house. The other day, the best friend wrote to me to ask if my husband had left the statues to him in his will; he said that my husband had told him he was giving them to him. I explained that he hadn’t written any specific bequests into his will; he had asked me informally to see to a few gifts to friends and charities if I were to survive him, and this friend was among them, but the informal bequest wasn’t of the statues. I told the man how meaningful these objects were to me.

The friend wrote back to say that the statues had always been his — he bought them himself and installed them in the apartment, and that he was surprised my husband had taken them when he sold it. He also showed me the fairly recent email thread in which my husband had indeed made the (somewhat casual) promise. I was shocked that my husband hadn’t told me that he’d promised to give away items he knew meant a very great deal to me. But I no longer have any doubt that the friend’s ownership of them is genuine.

I am now in the very awkward and melancholy position of wondering how to sort this out. If I keep these beloved objects to honor my husband’s memory, I will be stealing them from the friend; if I give them up, I will be deeply upset by the loss of important objects closely associated with my husband.

The friend remained the closest of friends with my husband until the end, and has been nothing but kind to me in my bereavement. Nevertheless, I feel trapped in some sort of longstanding, unstated contention between the two of them. I don’t want to lose the statues, but I don’t want to cheat the friend. Can you advise me how to think about this and what to do? Name Withheld

“Where does spirit live?” my late friend Seamus Heaney wrote in a poem mourning his father. “Inside or outside / Things remembered, made things, things unmade?” Like many poets before him, he had a keen sense of how memory could repose in objects, whether “dungy sticks / In a jackdaw’s nest” or “a marble bust commanding the parterre.” But a memory palace, he knew, could also become a prison.

You now accept that the statues belong to your friend, and that your husband told him he would return them to him. And so you know that you must accede to this friend’s request. Just now, in the chill of your own bereavement, the loss of these familiar objects may seem to deepen the loss of your husband. Perhaps it will help to think of the return as a way of respecting his close friendship with the statues’ owner and honoring one of his commitments.

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