WaPo scandalously suggest America's shame may not be blamed on Russia
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Amazingly there are still things that happen in the Russian-occupied US without being ordained by Vladimir Evilovich Putin. Who knew? Yet even The Washington Post, which has led the charge in exposing Russia's dark hand behind POTUS, now says so.
Take the recent Nazi and Bolshevik marches in Charlottesville, Virginia. WaPo first notes that some are holding Russia responsible for Americans attacking Americans:
Some observers also saw a far more direct foreign influence at work in Charlottesville. Molly McKew, a writer and foreign policy consultant, argued on Twitter that far-right protests should prompt a conversation about “Russian influence, and operations, in the United States.” Jim Ludes, a vice president of Public Research and Initiatives at the Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy, added that there were “unmistakable ties between alt-right groups in Charlottesville and Russia.”
But then goes on to completely debunk that notion:
Even so, many Russian experts have expressed concern that Moscow’s influence in the U.S. is being dramatically exaggerated. The seeming affinity between Russia and the American far right is undermined by the fact that the two are hardly a neat ideological fit. Vladimir Putin's government has crushed most of the political ambitions of Russia's own far right. Putin is a critical ally of Chechen ruler Ramzan Kadyrov and allows Chechnya, a Muslim-majority Russian republic, to follow its own conservative brand of the religion.
Nor are the ideas that drive the American far-right an invention of Moscow. J.M. Berger, a fellow at the Alliance for Securing Democracy, recently suggested that Russia can only help spread messages that already exist. “None of this is to assert Russia controls or orchestrates what happens on the alt-right; they do however opportunistically amplify it,” wrote Berger on Twitter last week following criticism of the Alliance's work.
Indeed, the setting of Charlottesville speaks to the extent to which the far right’s message is all-American. The statue of Lee that sparked this weekend's violence was installed in 1924, almost 60 years after the end of the Civil War and in the same year that Virginia made it illegal for a white person to marry a nonwhite person.
Writing in the Atlantic earlier this year, Adam Serwer noted that raising statues of Lee and other Confederate figures was part of an ongoing “150-year-old propaganda campaign designed to erase slavery as the cause of the war and whitewash the Confederate cause as a noble one” known as the Lost Cause. It's also largely thanks to this movement that the Confederate flag remains in use today. Neo-Nazis in Germany have even been known to adopt the flag to get around their country's ban on Nazi symbols.
Reimagining Lee as a tragic and admirable figure for all Americans, a reluctant secessionist who thought the war was about states' rights rather than slavery, was one part of the Lost Cause campaign, Serwer wrote — despite the fact that Lee was himself a slaveholder. And the backlash to removing Confederate monuments and symbols long predates the rise of “alt-right” groups or the Trump campaign.
Consider, for example, the long-running fights over removing the Confederate flag from government buildings in Southern states, which stretch back decades. In Charlottesville — now known for being a supposed island of liberalism in a conservative area of Virginia — serious debate about removing the statue of Lee first surfaced in 2012 and quickly prompted an angry and evidently homegrown response.
The New Yorker's Jelani Cobb pointed out that the seeds of this weekend's violence go back even further: pro-Nazi rallies of considerable size have taken place in America numerous times over the years. What is unusual about the weekend's events is not that the far right is mobilizing in the U.S., Cobb writes, but that “we’ve seen such a feeble response to those gatherings in the upper echelons of American power.”
American Nazis, and the left-right hatred in the US may not be explained as the work of the Russian government? Incredible.
This post first appeared on Russia Insider
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