Yves here. Yasha Levine describes the hypocrisy of liberals who almost certainly consider themselves woke, or at least not racists, engaging in precisely that sort of behavior with respect to Russians. We’ve seen another case study in double standards, with Democrats defending Joe Biden’s habit of putting his hands on women in subordinate positions when they’d be calling for the head of a Republican who did the same thing.
By Yasha Levine, the author of Surveillance Valley: The Secret Military History of the Internet. Originally published at Substack
This bigotry isn’t coming from the “lower-classes” that liberals love to mock so much, but from very top — the crème de la crème of our media and political class.
I’ve been trying to write about the liberal xenophobia that undergirds so much of today’s elite panic about “Russia” and “the Russians.” Since Trump’s election, the usual stereotypes and tropes about Russians have morphed into an all-encompassing racist conspiracy. It’s become totally fine — and even respectable — in American liberal media circles to bombard viewers and readers with all sorts of conspiracies that see shadowy Russian interests infecting “our” society and lurking behind everything that’s going wrong in America and around the world.
As a Soviet-born Jew who grew up in America, it’s been impossible for me not to notice just how similar these conspiracies are to old antisemitic fantasies about “Judeo-Bolsheviks” and the “Elders of Zion” — deadly fairytales about degenerate “easterners” wielding total power in secret, and plotting from the shadows to dominate and exploit white, Christian civilization.
The liberal journalists, academics, media personalities, Hollywood stars, and New York Times documentary filmmakers who’ve been screeching about “the Russians” for the past three years may not be aware that they’re serving up reheated racist fantasies, but they are. And this bigotry isn’t coming from the “lower-classes” that liberals love to mock so much, but from very top — the crème de la crème of our media and political class. One day you get Rachael Maddow working herself into paranoid seizure about a supposed Russian plot to cut power lines and freeze millions of Americans in their sleep. On another, you can watch the screenwriter of Mrs. Doubtfire take to the Internet to theorize about how the Russians are plotting to take down Joe Biden (and I guess to covertly boost Bernie Sanders) by getting an American politician to highlight the creepy and demeaning way Biden treats women.
It’s gross, and it goes to show that the respectable liberal opposition to Donald Trump is no less racist and paranoid than he is — it just operates in a different xenophobic market demographic.
Anyway, I say that I’ve been “trying” to write about this because, well, it’s such a gross and unpleasant topic that it’s hard to find the words. So far, the only way I’ve been able to process it is to tweet — to tweet and to draw.