“He said something about it, ‘It’s not real,'” Amsden recalls. The Holocaust is not real. “
She thought her son was joking. Now she says it was not clear.
They spoiled many things: a grandmother of two sons; She is a longtime social worker, now in her late forties, and also works on acting in her small town in Utah. She says she is also the mother of an extremist.
This was not always the case, and Amsden says she still hopes to get the boy she sees growing up, who has apparently disappeared.
“I’m looking for a solution or advice myself, because I feel that the things I tried are not working,” she said.
My mother tells how a peaceful young man embraced hatred
It was different between Amsden and her son Jared Boyce, now 27.
“We were very close,” she said of her only child. She said he grew up in Utah, was friendly and caring and had friends from different backgrounds and ethnicities.
Amsden said he actually suffered, especially after his father left the family to live as an openly gay man. She remembered that her son’s relationship with his father became strained, although it was often not there after his father left.
What became more focused was the apparent desire for Boyce to find his own place in the world.
“I do not blame his father for what Jared decided to do, but he struggled to gain acceptance,” Amsden said.
She said: “At one point he liked Buddha. A peace. He even tattooed Buddha on his arm, “she said, adding that he had another tattoo that read:” Do not give in to hatred, anger and rage. ”
But hatred, rage and rage seem to be where he finally found his place.
When he used the internet for the past few years with his marriage falling apart, Amsden said her son was internalized by a group that radicalized him and made him feel he had to work to save people from evil.
When CNN reached out to Boyce to ask his opinion, he responded by sending a video of the drag queen dancing in public in front of a large audience before tearing out her clothes and exposing her genitals.
There was no message in the text. Boyce’s mother interpreted this as a symbol of her son’s belief that he needed to work with the Patriot Front to save children from being cared for by gays.
Amsden says Boyce joined the group online in 2018 and has since tried to convince her that his online “brothers” are all well and good.
She said he tried to convert her with the group’s data, but she kept telling him she did not care about people spreading hatred against gays, immigrants, blacks and others.
But she is at a loss as to what to do.
A turning point for my mother, if not for her son
CNN contacted the lawyer representing one of the men, but did not hear back.
Boyce spent the night he was arrested in prison, and his mother hoped that it would serve as a wake-up call for him, and that the group he was in was not good and could keep him away from his young sons – 3 and 5 years old. . .
Amsden watched her grandchildren over the weekend as Boyce said he wanted to go on a camping trip. But when he came back and scolded him about the arrest, she found that his situation had worsened.
Rather than come to his senses, he was more determined than ever that he and his comrades were doing the right thing. This pushed Amsden to the end of her rope.
She says she tried to love Boyce. I tried to be patient with him. I tried to help him. She gave her adult son a place to live when his marriage broke down. She gave him petrol money when he did not have enough. I tried to think with him. I yelled at him. She says she argued and listened.
Now she could not bear it any longer, so she asked him to leave the basement of her house where he lived.
“I do not kick him out of my house because I want him to suffer and be miserable and homeless,” she said. I just want him to realize where the love and support really comes from. ”
Of the men in his group, she added: “It does not come from them. He feels that she is. But they will not take him and help him get a job. ”
“I tried everything,” Amsden said weeping. He chose the National Front over his family. ” “It’s a slap in the face.”
Stay connected, but set boundaries
Amsden says she longs to keep her family together, but is consulted on how to bridge the gap with her son.
Psychiatrist Joseph Ma-Pierre says that desire can be valuable.
Pierre, who has been studying why people join groups for decades, is a professor of clinical health sciences in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine.
“So if that person then decides they want to come back from the rabbit hole or make a change, there is something to return to.”
But he warns those who come in contact with someone imbued with hatred or lies should place restrictions on their mental health to prevent them from being guilty of it.
“I think sometimes to be able to say, ‘Look, let’s go out for coffee,'” Pierre says, “but we’re not going to talk about anything (exhausted), well, let’s just talk about other things.”
It may be the best or only option when family members and friends become “true believers” in a matter and are not ready or unable to challenge it, he said.
“For a true believer, it’s not just about believing,” Pierre told CNN. This is ‘I define myself based on that belief’ and this is when it becomes very difficult to undo it. “At that point, it becomes very dangerous (argument) because then people see the threat of ideology, or faith, as a threat to themselves.”
Earlier in a person’s extremes, when what Pierre calls an “unbeliever” is truly unconnected, or a “loafer” when someone is flirting with new ideas, other approaches may work.
The psychiatrist said there is no universal response because each circumstance will involve different circumstances that lead people to that point. Do they feel lonely, angry, anxious or scared? May professional help with mental health be needed?
And while challenging beliefs can push people further into their corners, providing alternative opinions and evidence can be helpful if someone is in the early stages.
Pierre suggests that those dealing with a difficult loved one find a support group for themselves where others understand them and perhaps have people who have left hate and extremist groups who can talk about why they were attracted and how and why they changed their minds.
“If we expect them to come out of the proverbial rabbit hole, we need to understand why they went in in the first place,” Pierre said.
When I travel through America, I find families nervous
For most families, it was not extremism that entered their families, but political polarization that entered the equation and began to tear their relationships apart.
I heard many versions of this scenario appear in homes as I travel through America to report for CNN.
People whisper to me how they no longer talk to their aunt because she is a “crazy socialist liberal” who rejects any and every idea that has something to do with conservatism. Others tell me that they no longer invite their grandfather to be with their children because he has turned into a “crazy right-wing angry cult of Trump” who spits out “xenophobic nonsense”.
The Americans also cut off their old friends. They removed acquaintances and friends from their feeds on Facebook and other social media. They prevented colleagues from attending parties. All because it’s very stressful to have them nearby when the conversation turns to politics, religion or anything substantial.
You may have felt nervous yourself at social gatherings. Many people are confused about what to do and turn away. It is very tiring and very toxic to try to fix this part of the world that already feels overwhelmed.
One of the things that makes dealing with extremism and polarization more difficult is the large amount of disinformation and disinformation that is now available to the public.
“We are 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 topics that can evoke understanding and restore the joy of teamwork.
Pierre added that in any relationship that becomes difficult, there may come a point where distance may be the only way to maintain mental health.
This is not yet an option for Karen Amsden. She says she will always love her son, but he is not the only one who cares for her.
She is afraid of his precious children and grandchildren and how they are taught to hate.
“They are both wonderful children,” Amsden said of the boys.
But she is sad when parrots sing their father’s extreme beliefs.
“We go out and (he) will see the rainbow flag and go … Dad hates the rainbow flag. Bad rainbow flag. ”