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10 Dec, 2018 18:14

Casual xenophobia: Investor condemned for ‘genocidal rhetoric’ after saying Russia is ‘a plague’

Casual xenophobia: Investor condemned for ‘genocidal rhetoric’ after saying Russia is ‘a plague’

Venture capitalist Matthew Ocko has been heavily criticised on Twitter for a tweet which suggested that anything connected to Russia was like a “deadly plague with no cure,” and that it was best to “quarantine it.”

A number of people who came across the message accused Ocko of, among other things, “genocidal rhetoric.”

He later retweeted an update of his original message, adding several words and quotation marks because of what he called the “virtue policing mob,” who it is assumed are those people who were angered by the smearing of an entire race of people. It appears he had tweeted a quote.

However, what appears to be an attempt to distance himself from his original claims in some ways makes it worse, because originally he selected a specific quote to express thoughts that he agrees with, and actually edited the original to make it stronger.

When the strength of what he had said was pointed out to him he tweeted that he was: “referring to Russian influence, not people specifically. But thank you for pointing out inapt phrasing - thinking about how to fix.” It has become a meme among critics demonstrating Russophobic tendencies that they don’t mean Russian “people.”

However, a brief look at Ocko’s timeline sees him describe Russians as “drunken,”“misogynists,”“inept,” and “depraved.” You get the point, he doesn’t like Russia, and uses language which is demeaning and dangerous.

Twitter is particularly effective in drawing out people’s darker side. Ocko, in his Twitter bio, describes himself as: “Venture capitalist (@DCVC). Technologist. Husband-ist. Dad-ist. Friend-ist. Real wood fires, evenings w/ good food, wine & friends, & neat sci-fi.” He even includes a love heart. That’s not really the description of a person you would expect to be accused of “genocidal rhetoric” in his timeline.

There’s no obvious deep connection between Ocko and Russia, no demonstration of any kind of expertise on the country which he despises, so questions remain over exactly how someone could come to hold such strong views.

Ocko works in Silicon Valley, which employs many thousands of Russians. Google was co-founded by a Russian. Does Ocko want them quarantined too? As one Twitter critic pointed out, supporting hate-filled rhetoric “doesn’t have a great historical record.”