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Boen Wang (right) with his mom in Tiananmen Square. Photo courtesy of Boen Wang.

Why do people accuse those with different political views of being brainwashed? How useful is that perspective when it comes to discussing our beliefs? And where does the term “brainwashing” even come from?

In the latest episode of our series 'Immigrants in a Divided Country', writer and audio producer Boen Wang interviews his mother, an immigrant from Mainland China. Though they disagree on all sorts of political issues and think of the other as being “brainwashed,” he learns about the evolution of her beliefs and how they were shaped by her experiences growing up during the Cultural Revolution in the 60s, coming of age in Beijing in the 80s, and adjusting to the US as a new immigrant in the 90s. Along the way, Boen discovers the surprising history and etymology of the term "brainwash," which has roots in American Cold War-era anxieties about the rise of communism. This episode offers a unique perspective on the current political landscape and raises important questions about the use and misuse of language in our political discourse.

Listen here

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