‘Pro-Russia’ t-shirts at Trump rally go viral, sending Democrats into meltdown
Cleveland photographer Jeremy Pelzer spotted the two friends, who had travelled from the city of Delaware to attend the Trump rally, wearing matching t-shirts displaying the controversial slogan: “I’d rather be a Russian than a Democrat.”
Unsurprisingly, the photograph has since gone viral and the seemingly pro-Russia sentiment has Democrats fired up in outrage at the thought of Trump supporters “proudly choosing Russia over their fellow Americans”.
Republicans, your failure to stand up to Trump’s disinformation campaign caused this. The end result would make Putin proud—Americans proudly choosing Russia over their fellow Americans. https://t.co/O6O4OUdqE9— Renato Mariotti (@renato_mariotti) August 5, 2018
Some Twitter users felt that if the two Republicans really wanted to be Russians they should be granted their wish and take up residence in Russia, while others were so angered by the slogan that they claimed the two men were “not Americans anymore”.
Anyone that says "They'd rather be a Russian than a Democrat" should get their wish. Y'all be sure and write! pic.twitter.com/ryv3jeTNcK— Tea Pain (@TeaPainUSA) August 5, 2018
I will personally pay for at least one person wearing one of these t-shirts to receive a one-way ticket to Russia. Who else is in? 🙋🏾♀️ https://t.co/8CySlDtG8S— Asha Rangappa (@AshaRangappa_) August 5, 2018
Some were convinced that the t-shirts signalled that Russian President Vladimir Putin was “winning” and that the Republican Party had completed its transition to the “party of traitors”.
“I’d rather be Russian than a Democrat” t-shirt. The GOP has completed its turn into the party of traitors. https://t.co/MoM1vDCtDH— Jeff Cannata (@jeffcannata) August 5, 2018
Putin is winning! These traitors make me ill! Vote! pic.twitter.com/Yr1a9nFT9s— The Commander ✊🏼🌊 🇬🇧 🍫🐾🇺🇸 🏃🏽♀️💙 (@ChocaholicBrit) August 6, 2018
One lone user took a slightly more forgiving approach and criticized the media for attempting to brand all Republicans with the same Russia-loving brush.
2/ This viral image of "I'd rather be a Russian than a Democrat" is, of course, confirmation bias. Two guys on the fringe are used to confirm everything you want to believe about Republicans. pic.twitter.com/ngjuGgHmqx— Robᵉʳᵗ Graham 🤔 [will be at DEF CON] (@ErrataRob) August 5, 2018
The t-shirts even sparked a debate about cultural and racial diversity in Russia when some on Twitter took them to mean that “racist” Trump supporters see Russia as a "white” country.
The unstated part of this sentiment is “at least Russians are white”: https://t.co/VSmi9qjYTm— Leah McElrath (@leahmcelrath) August 5, 2018
Russia is a white country.In the "literature" of white supremacy, it's considered a great white enthno-state.I'm not joking when I say that the argument here is their whiteness is more important to them than their country. pic.twitter.com/bB8bLeHgmm— Mikel Jollett (@Mikel_Jollett) August 5, 2018
Luckily, some others stepped in to remind Twitter that Russia is actually an ethnically diverse country, despite popular misconception.
Not only all of these things are factually untrue (Russia is gloriously diverse and there's a strong tradition of non-Slavic nationalism in ethnic republics like Tuva, Tatarstan and Yakutia), but they also directly contradict everything Putin has even said on the subject. https://t.co/gXdlJoTFDg— Alexey Kovalev (@Alexey__Kovalev) August 6, 2018
This is completely untrue. Russia is a giant smorgasbord mixing Slavic, Tatar, central & east Asian, Jewish and Kavkaz ethnicities, among others. Western ‘white nationalists’ confuse its lack of many black or brown people (down to geography mainly) with ethnic conformity. https://t.co/xPIvMyCPH8— Bryan MacDonald (@27khv) August 6, 2018