Obviously, this is a very minor inconvenience but I’m speaking at an in-person conference on March 25 and I’ll have to say the word “Mariupol” several times. Because that’s where the action in the novel I’m analyzing takes place. (Yes, a Spanish novel set in Mariupol, Ukraine. How was I supposed to know what was going to happen to Mariupol when I proposed the talk months ago?) I can’t say “Mariupol” without bawling. I know that it’s stupid to complain about something like this. But I’m not looking forward to making a spectacle of myself at the conference.
I also have a student doing a research paper on this novel and now I can’t grade it. I see “Mariupol” on a page, and then I don’t see anything else.
Horrifying attack on Mariupol. Children's hospital and maternity hospital targeted by Russian strikes. Many losses. The city is completely surrounded. There’s no electricity, water and gas. Russia refuses to provide green corridor. City is facing humanitarian catastrophe. pic.twitter.com/YwhvABuVVZ
Here’s another example of how easy it is to manipulate people. Apparently, the MSM massively posted a couple of old photos from Ukraine. One is of Zelensky in uniform from last April and another of Ukrainian children greeting troops from 2014. Why not use more recent photos, I don’t know. Maybe it’s laziness. Maybe stupidity. Maybe something else.
Immediately, internet sleuths discovered that the photos are old. As if there were any shortage of new ones but OK.
“We are being manipulated!” they wail. “Ukrainians are manipulating us!”
Yes, you are being manipulated. But not by Ukrainians. In Ukraine, everybody has known these images for a long time and knows what they are about. You are being manipulated by your own media and are reacting exactly how they want.
To give an example of how the media manipulate people, I’ll briefly discuss the CNN report on Ukraine I saw yesterday. Mind you, it was a single report, not two different programs. So you can’t say that two different talking heads were offering two different perspectives.
The report insistently transmitted two contradictory messages:
1. Situation in Ukraine is dire and urgent help is needed.
2. Russian troops have only managed to achieve “a minimal advancement” into Ukrainian territory.
What is a regular person supposed to think when hearing this contradictory message? “There’s something fishy going on. I can’t be bothered to unravel this mess.” Which is exactly the goal that the CNN is trying to achieve.
If the CNN said openly “don’t care about Ukraine,” many people would be prompted to care just out of the spirit of contradiction. With this primitive manipulation tactic, they achieve the goal much more easily.
By the way, the part of the programming that is a lie is point 2 about “minimal advancement.”
Stay alert and assume that what they are trying to say is the opposite of what they are actually saying.
To distract myself from everything bad, I enrolled in an online course on the contemporary political novel in Spain. The course is 2 hours a week for 3 months. What attracts me to the course is that in a reading list of 22 authors I only know two. You’d think it’s impossible to find Spanish authors I don’t know but yes, it is. This isn’t my kind of literature (too postmodern) but I want to expand my horizons.
The course starts in early April, so now I need to plough through the reading list. I’m actually really excited about this. I loved being a student and now I can briefly go back to being one. I used to be a mega pest as a student. Let’s see if time has taught me anything.
It’s also cute to observe the starry-eyed gullibility of people who should really know better.
“Biden says the US will stop buying Russian oil!”
“And you believe him because. . . why, exactly? Because he’s been so honest about everything else?”
“But he said so!”
Ah, well, in that case.
Immediately, the Biden administration declared it will be buying oil from Venezuela. Venezuela destroyed its oil capacity years ago under the orders from Russia. “Buying from Venezuela” means buying from Russia through the backdoor.
But you go right along. Continue believing that the same politicians and the same media who lied to you for years about everything else are now all of a sudden completely honest and are sincerely helping Ukraine.
Because they say so. And it must be true if they do.
What’s really funny is that the right-wing position on Ukraine is identical to what the left-wing position was in 2014. Right-wingers unearth the hoariest gossip from the NYTimes and the NPR circa 2013-14 and present it as their own insight. Nazis in the Ukrainian army, the civil war in Ukraine, there is no invasion, the CIA organized the 2013 revolution, etc. Even the weird obsession with Victoria Nuland has once again reared its ugly head but this time on the right.
In 2014 I heard this silliness from the left, and now I’m hearing it from the right. You’d think they might remember whose playbook it is to call the people you don’t like Nazis and fascists. Forget 2014, this happened in Canada just a few weeks ago. The memory should be fresh. But no, if the left is running around and screaming “Nazis!”, we should, too. What’s next, criticizing Ukrainians for being anti-BLM and ‘transphobic’? Give it a few weeks, and we’ll see Tucker rant about racist Ukrainians. The right in Spain is already doing it.
This is the reason why the left always defines the narrative. The right can’t be bothered to create its own and always poutily tags in the rear. “You racist!” “No, you racist! I can be a better you than you possibly can.”
In other news, energy to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant has been cut. Reactors can’t cool if there’s no power.