'Putin's Russia' didn't create the Ku Klux Klan

Bryan MacDonald
Bryan MacDonald is an Irish journalist based in Russia.
'Putin's Russia' didn't create the Ku Klux Klan
We need to have a conversation about Twitter threads. Especially examples where pseudo-'Russia experts' try to connect Moscow to every problem facing the United States (and the wider world).

Because if you believe some of these clowns, before Vladimir Putin arrived on the political scene there was no Ku Klux Klan, no Nazis and no white supremacists in America. That’s right, the political Superman himself has not only rebuilt Russia into a “threat,” he’s also orchestrated the birth of the US far right, which didn’t exist before his emergence. And this is in addition to manipulating elections across the globe and preparing to soon, presumably shirtless, lead his forces into a mass invasion of Europe. Because, after all, he’s the new Hitler too.

Which comes as a huge surprise to those who genuinely understand Russia. Where Putin has formed cabinets, containing a smorgasbord of ethnic backgrounds from Tatar to Tuvan and German to Chechen. Administrations that haven’t been anti-immigration or anti-Muslim, and have implemented policies which made Russia the world’s third largest migration destination. Bear in mind, before Angela Merkel opened Germany’s doors two years ago, it was second to the US.

Furthermore, he’s regarded as notably friendly to Jewish interests and has adroitly undermined domestic nationalists, who are far more associated with the opposition politician, Alexey Navalny. A figure, incidentally, almost universally supported by the Western media, which glosses over these links and incorrectly portrays him as a liberal, to satisfy their own agenda.

Because America

For most reasonable people, this weekend’s Nazi and KKK rallies - and the inexcusable violence and terror they caused - in America's Charlottesville induced feelings of horror, if not huge surprise. After all, the United States has had problems with public displays of racism throughout its history. And, at various times, white supremacist outfits like the KKK have been close to the mainstream. Indeed, it’s only 60 odd years since Rosa Parks and the Montgomery bus boycott.

American silence on far right revanchism and historical revisionism in Eastern Europe has also been disturbing. For instance, Washington has mostly ignored attempts to rehabilitate Baltic Nazi collaborators, and its media has downplayed the topic. To make matters worse, in Ukraine, US politicians have openly colluded with fascists. Such as when John McCain and Paul Ryan spoke glowingly of Andrey Parubiy, the chair of Kiev’s parliament, who founded a party which described itself as the “last hope of the white race.”

So what’s this got to do with Russia, you may ask? Well, those of you who use Twitter will have noticed how a bunch of previously obscure “analysts,” who formerly focused on ex-Soviet republics or other mundane topics, have recently become popular on the platform as "Russia experts." Mainly by peddling absolute codswallop in the form of lengthy tweet “threads,” which are lapped up by crestfallen Hilary Clinton supporters who want to believe the Kremlin was responsible for her defeat in last year’s election. And this has led to commissions in the mainstream print media and plenty of TV appearances. All of which probably beats writing for an audience of policy wonks about stuff like migration trends in Uzbekistan and Abkhazia.

New sensations

One of the most prominent is Molly McKew who, this year, has fallen up from the pages of something called The Washington Free Beacon to more well-established outlets like Politico, the Washington Post, and Foreign Policy. Presumably because, these days, the mainstream isn’t interested in real Russia expertise and prefers hacks who will eagerly contribute to the new McCarthyism. And genuine Russian specialists, of real quality, need not apply.

McKew, once an advisor to former Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, who is wanted on criminal charges in his homeland and was recently made stateless by Ukraine, has been banging out threads at a rate of knots. At the weekend, she launched one, shared thousands of times, which attempted to pin the blame for Charlottesville on the Kremlin.

Citing the “Gerasimov doctrine,” something I’ve never heard anyone mention in Russia, she described America’s “alt-right” (think Steve Bannon, David Duke and friends) as an internal opposition marching to Putin’s beat. Notwithstanding, of course, how Duke has far more connections to US-ally Ukraine. Having taught at Kiev’s largest university and accepted a doctorate there.

But, before we move on, I need to loop back to the Gerasimov nonsense for a moment. McKew seems to be referring to a form of non-traditional, or to use a buzzword “hybrid,” war some Western “Russia watchers” accredit to, the army general, Valery Gerasimov (incidentally, a Tatarstan native) because of a 2013 article which they circulated on social media to make themselves feel all warm and fuzzy inside. But these oxygen thieves aren’t exactly reliable sources.

You see, media hype about this style of conflict began after the Georgian assault on South Ossetia in 2008, and Russia’s reaction to it. And, back then, Nikolai Makarov was army chief. So you might as well call it the “Makarov roadmap” or, more accurately, the nothing-burger. Because there is not a single person in Russia, who speaks of the “Gerasimov doctrine.” Only foreign “Russia watchers” use the term, and they are about as useful in understanding the subject as a fork in a soup kitchen.

More Madness

McKew also cites somebody called Heimbach, presumably, the relative non-entity Matthew Heimbach, saying “Russia (is) leading the white world,” but the attached text mentions the “free world” and doesn’t specify a color preference. Plus, McKew appears unaware that Russia has a bigger Muslim population, per capita than Britain, France, Italy or the USA.

Next, she states “Russia invaded Crimea, changing borders of Europe by force for (the) first time since WWII.” Which is another entry crafted in ignorance. Because, with thousands of soldiers already in Crimea, under treaty rights, Putin didn’t need to invade. And the second part is also wrong. As even secondary school history students know, NATO member Turkey forcibly took Northern Cyprus in 1974 and America itself led an illegal bombing campaign against Yugoslavia, which dismembered the Balkan nation in the late 1990’s. Also, it’s worth noting that Crimea was part of Russia after the Second World War, as it had been for centuries, and was only later transferred to Ukraine for administrative reasons, by Soviet authorities in the 1950's.

McKew then proceeds to throw Evangelical Christians and the National Rifle Association into the mix, as Kremlin-linked groups. But this ignores how they also enthusiastically supported the last Republican president, George W Bush. And he was hardly walking hand-in-hand with Moscow.

Rants like these, and the traction they get, are a window into the madness currently enveloping American liberals. They are popular because it's far easier to blame foreign actors for every problem befalling the United States than accept the reality, which is the growing inequality and Trump himself are all homegrown phenomena.

Also, it wasn’t Russia that brought the KKK or white supremacy to America, and you can’t pin slavery, the civil war or the slaughter of the native population on Moscow either. Not forgetting, of course, that the biggest victims of the actual Nazis were Russians. Which is not something most Americans understand.

Yarns trying to hoodwink people into believing Russia is responsible for the American far right are pure hogwash. American racism is behind America racism, and these guys don’t need any outside assistance to fuel their hate.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.