I live in a bubble, people. It’s only from the TVs at the gym that I discovered that there is a horrible snowstorm ravaging my state and that the whole country is about to watch some sports game where everybody will consume 2,400 calories while watching.
More calories is the last thing I need so I’m happy I’m not into that game. Instead, N and I will celebrate the very last round of New Year’s festivities (yes, really, and who’s to tell us we can’t?). I vowed not to take down the New Year’s decorations until I see snow but it seems like, at this rate, I’ll might have to prepare to spend the next 30 years with these decorations and that’s kind of extreme.
Like Monsieur Jourdain who was stunned to find out he spoke in prose, many people read articles inspired by Putin ‘ s propaganda and adopt their viewpoint without having a clue that this is what they are doing. Putin is spending significant sums of money on getting Western journalists and bloggers to spread around his ideas. It’s stupid to participate in that without even being paid.
So how do you know if a piece on Ukraine is Putinoid? Here is a list of useful clues (these are all ideas that Putin ‘ s propaganda machine has been pushing like crazy):
1. The article suggests that Putin has been demonized by the Western press (in reality, the Western press has been so unwavering in its support for Putin that nobody in the West even knows 1% of all the horrible things this vicious little animal has done).
2. The article mentions “pro-Russian rebels” or “pro-Russian separatists.” (By this time, there has been such overwhelming proof that “the pro-Russian rebels” are citizens of Russia who are fighting with Russian weapons that people who insist on believing in “rebels and separatists” will continue doing so no matter what. In reality, there has never been a separatist movement anywhere in Ukraine. What is happening right now is a war of Russia against Ukraine. It’s an absolute tragedy for Ukraine and an enormous win for Putin that this still even needs to be said.)
3. The article mentions the Olympics or Pussy Riot. (This is Putin ‘ s favorite rhetorical device: whenever he is asked about Ukraine, he switches the subject to the Olympics. In reality, neither the Olympics nor Pussy Riot are even remotely related to anything that has been happening in Ukraine.)
4. The piece suggests that Putin annexed the Crimea because he was upset over Western bloggers making fun of toilets during the Olympics. (This is another one of Putin ‘ s favorite ideas that he’s been promoting very actively and in person. See my posts on his recent press conference, for instance. The idea is patently ridiculous. Nobody invades countries because of a couple of blog posts written all the way across the ocean. But this idea of Putin ‘ s flatters the Western bloggers ‘ feelings of self-importance, so they lap it up joyfully.)
5. The article states that Putin invaded Ukraine because he didn’t want NATO encroaching upon “his sphere of influence.” (I have explained in previous posts why that’s exactly the opposite of what Putin wants. What I haven’t discussed yet is how hurtful and demoralizing is for Ukrainians every instance of being casually referred to as “Putin ‘ s sphere of influence” in Western press. People are fighting for their lives in Ukraine, and all they are asking for at this point is not to be insulted in this way. They are people, not a “sphere”. It’s not ok to kill people because of somebody’s stupid fantasies about spheres.)
6. The article makes references to “ethnic Russians in Ukraine”, “Ukrainian neo-Nazis”, “far-right Ukrainian parties” or “a CIA-backed coup.” (These quotes from Putin that are never identified as such are quite outdated. Only the laziest journalist still makes use of them. Putin came up with a new one last week: “the NATO legionnaires that are fighting in Ukraine.” Let’s see who’ll be the first facile Western fool to bring up the NATO legionnaires in Ukraine.)
7. The general tone of the piece you are reading is that of “yes but.” Yes, Putin might have invaded but he was totally driven to do that because of evil things done by evil West. (In reality, what Russia does is not reactive. The people of Russia are so passionately and overwhelmingly in favor of this war that the absence of external motivation becomes evident. The war against Ukraine is serving the internal needs of Russia. It’s not about you, Obama, NATO, the EU, Merkel, a multi-polar world Putin supposedly wants, or anything of the kind. Russians went to war against their neighbors because of things that are happening inside Russia.)
I’ve seen Putin come up with all of these talking points during his press conferences and speeches. And then a week or two later, these same ideas would reappear pretty much verbatim in articles and posts by a crowd of Western journalists and bloggers. Of course, they are not all in Putin ‘ s pay. Most are simply lazy and repeat the stuff they’ve seen elsewhere because it speaks to their world view and feeds their sense of self-importance.
Don’t be a dupe for either paid-per-line Putinoids or recruited-for-free idiots. Approach what you are reading or hearing critically and carefully. There is a propaganda war going on, and Putin is winning it. When the ideas I listed above start looking seductive, repeat the following:
“Putin is against gay rights and thinks that the existence of gay teachers leads to pedophilia. He is severely limiting reproductive rights in Russia. He has completely undermined the separation of church and state and surrounded himself with rabid woman-hating priests in a country where nobody even is religious. He is busily dismantling the few remaining vestiges of the welfare state in Russia, destroying state clinics, firing thousands of doctors who worked in them. He is jailing journalists and bloggers. He is against progressive taxation. He said he was envious of Moshe Katsav for raping several women because it meant Katsav was strong and mighty.”
Is this really what you want to support? Which part of the list seems attractive to you?