Monday, December 5, 2016

The Truth Shall Set You Free

The disclosure of how Russian hackers have systematically undermined democracy in the U.S. by flooding the Internet with false or misleading stories has unmoored me. Not that I think the U.S. doesn't sometimes intentionally deceive Russians, but it would be hard to curate a portfolio of our blatant lies on the Internet as mendacious as that of the Russians. Besides, information fed to the Russian people weighs far less than that fed to the American public, since Russians are less empowered than U.S. citizens to influence or participate in their government. It's OK, though. I get it. Even if your country is defeated economically, information is one other means to conduct a cold war.

The cold war was plainly on again after Russia helped take down Malaysian flight MH17 over Ukraine. It was then that I noticed many of the websites that I was using to help make sense of current events accepted the Russian version of things with no hesitation. Regardless, I persisted for years in reading many of their views, dismissing their Russophilia as misdirected, but not malign. Now that the Russians' schemes are patent from investigative reports, I realize that these websites are, for whatever reason, beholden to the Russian disinformation apparatus and many are not worth visiting.

I dropped Club Orlov years ago, as I noticed Dmitry was not only too ardently defending Russian misdeeds, but also those of other U.S. enemies and denigrating our military. I first heard Orlov on James Howard Kunstler's podcast, whose Clusterfuck Nation blog this week pooh-poohs Russian hacking as an excuse mainstream news organizations are using for not noticing Trump's ascendancy among the electorate. To his credit, he doesn't deny the impact fake news may have had on the election, so I will keep him on my reading list. Another of my favorite writers, +Albert Bates, is too chummy with Dmitry and RT for me to trust his opinion as untainted, so I will have to stop reading his blog, too.

Photo by Sophie
A website that Kunstler put me onto, The Automatic Earth, has always helped me to wake up with a pessimistic view of the financial quagmire we are in. With its constant defense of Russian virtue and links to Zero Hedge and various other false news websites, I am glad to be rid of it. I will subscribe to the Washington Post again and get my morning news from the American media establishment rather than the apparatchiki. Another writer I located through Kunstler, John Michael Greer, has been mentioned in a few of my blogs as a fellow Marylander. He is on probation now, having soured me by a recent post in which he wondered why his blog wasn't on the list of 200+ websites showing evidence of heavy Russian fake news propagation. Come on, John! I know you think the best thing for us now is to have a million points of light shining in as many directions, but by toying with ideas from the heads of Russian hackers, you are just entering a hall of mirrors.

Jill Stein is doing something especially patriotic in fighting for vote recounts based, in part, on suspicions of Russian tampering. It is keeping the issue elevated long enough for us to realize that we need to all work harder at filtering information and that we need to protect our society from the effects of falsehoods at all levels of decision-making. I suspect that a lot of the push-back she received from fellow Greens was because many on the left became too invested in the narratives that originated in Moscow to the point that they subconsciously shifted their allegiance in favor of Russian tales to the detriment of their reliance on manifest truths.

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