The West – and in particular Western elites, have taken to blaming Russia for everything from Hillary Clinton’s 2016 loss, to Brexit, to their latest target of Putin’s “nefarious designs”; the Yellow Vest movement.
To that end the New York Post‘s Sohrab Ahmari has penned an intriguing Op-Ed on the phenomenon of the West uncritically accepting tales of Russian meddling behind everything. Originally from Iran – a “nation of conspiracy-mongers” who believe there’s a “hidden hand” behind every setback or stroke of bad luck, Ahmari notes:
“Only in the West these days, the hidden hand is usually a Russian one. And unlike in the Muslim world, where it’s typically the man on the street who suspects elites of serving nefarious foreigners, in the West, it’s the reverse: Many elites imagine that the common people, vast swaths of their own populations, are Kremlin agents.“
The latest example of this conspiracy mongering is the unsupported narrative that Russian cyber operations are behind the Yellow Vest protests which have gripped France and spread to several other countries.
“There has been some suspect activity,” a French official relayed to the Wall Street Journal. “We are in the process of looking at the impact.”
And that’s all it takes to seed a conspiracy theory…
Paris is probing “any Kremlin role in social-media activity that has amplified” the uprising “and spread misinformation about it,” per the Journal. This, even though Facebook says it hasn’t found any evidence, and a researcher with the Atlantic Council similarly denied seeing foreign interference.
It doesn’t take a political-science genius to uncover the origins of the yellow-vest movement. French President Emmanuel Macron invited the backlash with a fuel tax that would have penalized rural and working-class people for their lifestyles. They rose up and were soon joined by others dissatisfied with Macron’s high-handed liberalism.
No matter: If it’s a challenge to liberalism, it must be the Russians’ doing. –New York Post
Then of course there’s American elites who have been fixated on the more than two-year-old Russian “collusion” narrative which has become a persistent stain on President Trump’s legacy – perhaps by design.
Ahmari concedes that “Yes, Russian operatives flooded social media with misleading (and often comically amateurish) posts,” however it would take an absolute moron to think that voters in places like Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania to think that these Russian meme-warriors actually influenced the election – as opposed to, say, because Trump addressed the key issues most important to voters in said states.
Russian trolling even gets blamed when movie franchises disappoint their fans. In October, a University of Southern California researcher claimed that online trolls had spread and amplified political criticism of last year’s “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” with its cringy PC themes. The aim was to propagate “discord and dysfunction in American society,” which “remains a strategic goal for . . . the Russian Federation.” –New York Post
Or – perhaps Americans who grew up on Star Wars are monumentally disappointed that Disney turned Luke Skywalker into a bitter, broken man in a franchise that has resorted to forced humor and unmemorable characters.
All of this Russophobia “allows political and cultural elites to shift blame for mass dissatisfaction with liberalism to someone else,” writes Ahmari – who isn’t blind to the actual threat Russia poses.
Don’t get me wrong: Russia is a serious adversary of the US and democratic West. Putin seeks to dominate the small and unfortunate states that live under Russia’s shadow. He wants to displace America as the leading outside power in the Middle East. And he wants to downgrade American prestige. No doubt sowing social division inside Europe and the US is part of the plan. –New York Post
Behind the curtain, however, some Democrats have said that the Trump-Russia probe is a “running joke” among lawmakers which their voting constituants never ask about.
Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT) admits Trump-Russia probe is running joke with fellow Democrat lawmaker, says voters never ask about it. pic.twitter.com/7rQD3NVGF7
— Joshua Dov Caplan (@joshdcaplan) March 6, 2018
That said, there are some Western elites – such as former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who said back in March that it was time to wrap up the Russia probe so that America could “get back to business.”
Condoleezza Rice To Adam Schiff On Russia Investigation: “Wrap It Up…The Country Needs To Get Back To Business.” pic.twitter.com/mzmU14kdMO
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) March 1, 2018
Ahmari closes his Op-Ed with a warning to liberals; “listen to the angry cries of voters and left-behinds rather than pretending that they act under Moscow’s spell — or worse, treating them as pathological bigots whose online speech needs to be closely monitored and curtailed, lest it spreads the pro-Russian germ to others.”
“That elite attitude is far more likely to widen social divisions than any meme produced in a troll farm on the outskirts of St. Petersburg.”