The Atlantic published an essay on the eve of Thanksgiving, calling on readers to utilize family Thanksgiving get-togethers to “deprogram” and sow doubt in conservative relatives, suggesting that one may even succeed in changing their mind or perhaps “need to report [them] to the FBI!”
In an essay penned by Daily Beast contributing editor Molly Jong-Fast titled “Deprogram your relatives this Thanksgiving,” the left-wing pundit called the national celebration “terrible” and “no one’s idea of a great time,” though insisted using the time to “deprogram” relatives could make it worthwhile.
This Thanksgiving, it’s time to deprogram your relatives @MollyJongFast writes in Wait, What. “Maybe you’ll even change a heart or a mind … Or maybe you’ll need to report a relative to the FBI! Either way, it’s something to do besides just eat.” https://t.co/8Tzoo7YEJe
— The Atlantic (@TheAtlantic) November 24, 2021
“Thanksgiving is terrible, and if you at least spend the time trying to deprogram your niece, you won’t be bored or depressed,” she wrote. “[T]hough you might be enraged that Fox News or Infowars has convinced her Trump can ‘save America’ from Joe Biden’s radical agenda of giving people hearing aids and free pre-K.”
Calling the notion that Thanksgiving is a “time for harmony and niceties and gratitude” a “completely wrong” one, Jong-Fast slammed those who “think that you should spend your Thanksgiving playing nice.”
She specifically targeted those “pretending that your cousin doesn’t follow QAnon and that your uncle doesn’t believe the election was stolen and also that the Cyber Ninjas are a bunch of cucks for not uncovering voter fraud.”
“Spending a holiday sitting around, pretending your crazy relatives aren’t crazy, is one of America’s time-honored traditions,” she claimed, though adding “we are not in normal times.”
Noting that, in contrast with last Thanksgiving, Americans can finally gather “more safely” with family — including “weird cousins and uncles” — Jong-Fast called upon readers to utilize the opportunity to “deprogram” them.
“This is your chance to deprogram them,” she wrote.
“This is your chance to tell your aunt that maybe the news she gets from it isn’t all that reliable,” she added. “And that maybe the MAGA news network is not giving her unbiased news, either.”
She also highlighted vaccination against the coronavirus as a particular issue to confront relatives about.
“Especially when it comes to vaccines, family members can actually win each other’s hearts and minds,” she wrote, adding, “You could literally save your creepy uncle’s life.”
Concerning other issues, she claimed, “there’s a decent chance someone at your Thanksgiving table will be QAnon-curious or believe the Big Lie.”
“Should you let this person rant and rave about how there were voting ‘irregularities’ even though there weren’t irregularities?” she asked.
She also argued that such relatives may be ignorant of the truth due to their news sources.
“If they’re keeping up with current events through Facebook and Fox News, they’re in such an information silo that they might never hear the truth of what really happened during the 2020 election,” she wrote.
Jong-Fast added that, “For the record: Nothing happened.”
She then suggested that such confrontations may be the only hope that such relatives have of being gotten through to.
“You might be the only person your uncle talks to all year who could explain to him that the Cyber Ninjas themselves found zero evidence of voter fraud,” she wrote. “You might be the only person in the world who can sit down with your anti-vax cousin and explain to her that the vaccine won’t make her infertile and that Alex Berenson is a fraud.”
She concluded by suggesting that such attempts at “deprogramming” could potentially change others’ minds, though the need “to report a relative to the FBI” was also an option.
“[M]aybe you’ll plant the seed, sow just a little doubt about whatever Tucker Carlson is saying now. Maybe you’ll even change a heart or a mind,” she said. “Maybe you’ll bring the temperature down just a tiny bit. Or maybe you’ll need to report a relative to the FBI!”
“Either way, it’s something to do besides just eat,” she added.
In response, many took to social media to ridicule the essay.
“You’re totally normal and not deranged,” mocked Iranian-American columnist Sohrab Ahmari. “Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise!”
— Sohrab Ahmari (@SohrabAhmari) November 24, 2021
“Daily Beast editor and aspiring Cheka commissioner Molly Jong Fast asks you to report your relatives to the FBI this Thanksgiving,” wrote Christina Pushaw, press secretary for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Daily Beast editor and aspiring Cheka commissioner Molly Jong Fast asks you to report your relatives to the FBI this Thanksgiving https://t.co/97bb1qpsrx
— Christina Pushaw 🐊 (@ChristinaPushaw) November 24, 2021
“Historians of the future will specialize in understanding how an entire generation of American elites went insane,” wrote bestselling author and senatorial candidate JD Vance.
Historians of the future will specialize in understanding how an entire generation of American elites went insane. https://t.co/VSZ5tty4Je
— J.D. Vance (@JDVance1) November 24, 2021
“For those who know a little bit of history, this was the mindset in Italy and Germany during early 1930s,” wrote one Twitter user. “De-programming, Reporting what a nonsense.”
“That’s the way to bring your family together, report them to the FBI,” quipped another user.
“Or just enjoy your family in spite of their differences and not be a smug, self-righteous asshole for one day,” another wrote.
This is not the first time that “deprogramming” those on the right has been encouraged by those on the left.
In February, former FBI Assistant Director Frank Figliuzzi called for a large-scale “de-radicalization approach” to “Trump’s political cult members,” while highlighting the need to “deprogram” those who believe that Joe Biden did not win the recent presidential election.
That same month, the New York Times published an essay detailing a range of recommendations for the Biden administration to adopt to fix the “reality crisis” and “de-radicalize” citizens, including setting up a “reality czar” and “truth commission.”
In a video promoted by the left from earlier this year, citizens were called upon to become cyber detectives to monitor and report “radical” fellow citizen conservatives to authorities.
In January, Vanity Fair published an interview with cult expert Steven Hassan detailing how to go about “deprogramming” Trump supporters, while arguing for a “massive education” effort involving the participation of schools, mental health professionals, law enforcement, media, politicians, and intelligence agencies.
He also stated that “all of America needs deprogramming” due to the negative influence of President Trump.
Follow Joshua Klein on Twitter @JoshuaKlein