I have a buddy I was in Vietnam with. He is one of my best friends.
We have only met only once since we served together, but we talk on the phone at least once a month.
He is from the south and when I first met him he was very racist. I thought that he had changed because of fellow vets that he was friends with that are black.
I know that he is a Trump supporter. He knows how I feel about Trump so we just don’t talk about politics.
Our last phone conversation with him, he went off about “the god damn nggrs”. This went on for about a minute before I was able to change the subject and say goodbye.
I was shocked because I honestly thought he wasn’t racist anymore. He knows I am married to an Asian and has met my wife.
This is a man that I spent some horrible times with and we had a bond that can only be forged in war.
I am heart broken that a person that I have been in communication with for almost 50 years has these views. I can put up with his political views, but I don’t know if I can continue our friendship knowing that he is a racist.
I need to know what you all think.
I think you stated the key to your friendship, "This is a man that I spent some horrible times with and we had a bond that can only be forged in war." You were both young and out of your element, and forced together to trust one another in an insane environment. Friendship was a side effect of that trust. That would build a strong bond with just about anybody. 50 years later both you and he haven't been under those unusual conditions that bonded you together in decades. While I am sure you can never forget what you meant to each other during that moment in time, perhaps your perceptions of the objective value of your friendship is less than you think.
Put another way, if neither of you had served together in Vietnam and you just met each other at a barbecue or something, is this person someone that you would have chosen to have as a friend?
You need to man up and talk to him about his behaviour. Tell him it is not acceptable, that he served with black people and they were just as good as anybody else, tell him that you feel affronted by what he is saying. When you don't say anything you are ok with what he says in his eyes. It is like when guys talk about women in a horrible way, when they boasts about what they are going to do to them when they get home. It is not ok, ever.
People respond to their environment. I am fairly liberal with my language, but when I'm at my local Buddhist centre I put a lid on the cussing, for example. He probably talks as he does with the people he hangs out with and assumes that it isn't any different with you. I think you need to let him know in a kind way that it's not appropriate and that you feel uncomfortable with casual racism. If he cares about keeping your relationship he will respect that. If not - well, maybe it's time for a little more distance; you deserve better.
I've had to say goodbye to a really good friend of 5 years. It was painful, but I can't imagine the pain of saying goodbye to a friendship of 50 years. Maybe send him statistics and empirical evidence that his assumptions are wrong. Challenge the way he thinks. That's what a real friend would do. Make it a conversation and if he becomes an obstinate asshole about it, then cross that bridge when you get there. This an opportunity of a teachable moment and it couldn't come from a better source than a dear friend of 50 years. Best of luck.
Racism is a deal breaker for me...and yes, it is heartbreaking to find out someone you love and enjoy is racist. I have certain rules, such as using certain language around me...once used, there is no taking it back. I usually express my unhappiness at finding out how a person really feels, but I make no attempt to understand or see their point of view...to me, it is a waste of time. I simply let the friendship go for my own peace of mind. There is no compromise for me when it comes to this because I am Asian and my family is made up of several races.
Relationships are tricky. If I cut ties with everyone who had views that were offensive to me, I'd have no one but my preschooler to hang out with. I tend to break off things when I feel like the relationship is having a negative effect on me and try to put up with people otherwise. You might decide if you can handle the relationship or if it's causing more harm than good.
My son is half black and my daughter is half native. My granddaughter is half Mexican. I have a half Mexican nephew, two half Samoan nephews, and a Japanese Auntie. I cut anyone from my life that doesn’t respect this. I have to put up with a nephew (it is his brothers who are Samoan), and I still want to smash him to a pulp.
I have a friend of well over 50 years. I taught with him at a small town in central Florida. We are both Army vets. At the time that he became a close friend, he was a moderate, kind Christian. We engage in intense dialogue over many topics and explored ideas together. We remained in close contact over the years, both personally an professionally.
Unfortunately over the past 20 years or more, he has moved more and more to the extreme political right, and his religiousity has become extreme. He seemed to see it as his personal mission to "save" me. It reached a point that I wrote to him that I will maintain contact with him, but I will NOT respond to anything religious or political from him. We do not communicate often these days, but did not completely cut off contact. He was an old and dear friend, but is no longer a person I wish to associate with.
I'm perhaps overly assertive. I've ended a number of relationships since 2016 in lieu of voicing my displeasure of such racist speech and offering an ultimatum regarding the relationship/friendship. Sometimes they've offered to not speak that way in my presence and sometimes they've opted to walk away which in my mind was just as well.
I agree totally. My ex wife is from Kenya and in my own situation I was semi racist as a young man. My time in the Army and in Europe taught me a lot and I changed over the years, hence the 12 year marriage to my ex. I'm now 72.
In conversations with a neighbor we are talking and black people come up. This guy tells me "we sent them all to college and then they do this or do that." Wait! Who are the "we" that sent them to college? Who are "they" that did this or that? Most black people are more educated than many whites are, and you can see this man's racism a mile away. Many blacks work hard to go to college.
I'm learning to avoid people like that certain neighbor and I meet many like him every day in mid Missouri.
My vet buddies are some of the few I can have honest discussions with.
We frequently disagree, but can be extremely honest with each other.
I think, if you have some diplomacy and confront him about his language that will stop at least around you. If you remind him of your Black brothers in arms, he may even reconsider some of his racist ideas, but that's a call you have to make.
A personal story, I was raised very religious then stalked by a gay man at 15. I was extremely homophobic and beat up a random guy who grabbed my butt. Several gay and pro-gay people saw something in me, were patient with me and over time the homophobia died bc I saw it wasn't reality.
I'd say hang in there, be nice but also express your values. I'm fairly good friends with a handful of Trump supporters, including several who are vets.
It's sad that he got suckered into the Trump camp and drank the kool-aid, causing him to backslide into being racist again. I'm not a vet, so I can only go by what I have heard and imagine how tough this is for you to discover and deal with, but I imagine that vet bond would be tough to let go no matter what. I'm sure you will be ok with whatever you decide. You have my sympathy.
Some things can be deal-breakers. If what he says and thinks leads you to think less of him, that makes it tough to continue the friendship. Perhaps you can just contact him less and less frequently, eventually drifting apart. Or you could call him on it the next time you talk to him, keeping in mind the possibility that you will lose his friendship by confronting him. It depends on which way YOUR conscience will be most comfortable.
I'm sorry to hear that. I empathize because it sounds like you are describing my father. He is a Vietnam vet, proudly wears his MAGA hat and is a very passive aggressive racist (would never say anything to someone directly but will talk shit in private). I decided years ago there is nothing I can do to change him. He is a very angry, unhappy and unhealthy person. His life experiences and choices created that. I wish you the best. Incidentally, I am active duty serving in Japan so we rarely speak. I don't hold any grudges against him but prefer to avoid the negativity.
I’m not a vet, so I can’t comment on your bond with him. I’m sure it must be strong.
I’ve had to alienate myself and my children from my family for similar reasons.
I think you should probably say/ask/explain how you feel and for him to not speak that way when he’s with you. As a soldier, husband, and civically minded human being standing up for what is right is important. Make sure he knows you have a strong bond with him but set the ground rules.
Thank you for your service and welcome home my friend!
alas, his political views and his racism are wrapped up together.
i wish i had a solution. there probably is none. he is the product of his upbringing, and his upbringing is largely brainwashing.
the best you can do, i think, is ask him not to rant on racistly. explain that it makes you feel bad (i think "offends" would not be a useful word even if it's accurate). explain that you don't feel the same way, offer to explain why but give him a way out -- for example "if you want to know why it makes me feel bad i can tell you, but if you'd rather just drop it, that's okay too, but it hurts me to hear what you're saying so please don't lay that on me."
This is going to come down to your values and if you are able or want to put them aside for this person. Everytime he opens his mouth and spouts this rubbish it promotes hatred and division. Can you live with yourself if you don't make a stand for what you believe?
Frankly he doesn't consider your feelings as you consider his. He knows what you think but the zealot racist in him takes priority over your friendship.
Sorry to hear that but you're buddy has a lot of issues he doesn't want to deal with, and that shouldn't impact on you but unfortunately it does.
Skirting thorny issues like race, among others, is tiring, frustrating, and almost never productive or they're almost never able to be worked out.