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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

 
Objectively Pro-Putin

by digby

It figures that in a time when gangs of various political and cultural persuasions take to social media and demand that putative allies conform to their rules of discourse or risk being stalked or banished, it would only be a matter of time before this group dynamic made its way to foreign policy. I'm surprised it took so long.

Check this out, from TPM:

In a post published Monday on his blog, Ricks once again seemed to insinuate that Greenwald and Snowden are in cahoots with the Russians.

"Bottom line: I am no longer going soft on Greenwald and Snowden," he wrote. "In fact, rather the opposite, I am beginning to believe the worst about them. If they acting on moral beliefs, now would be the time for both of them to speak out against Putin. It could have a great impact, I think."
Whatever you do, don't think about the uncomfortable parallels with some not so distant historical events in American political life in which it was demanded that people publicly denounce Russian leaders or risk being named as sympathizers. It was not exactly our finest hour. (Also too, best not to think about the Soviet Show Trials, which also demanded denunciations --- not that it mattered, they were executed anyway, which is what usually happens.)

Ricks claims that Greenwald and Snowden are "profiting" from Russia (how that's happening is rather obscure) and therefore, if they fail to loudly denounce events in the Ukraine, they are objectively Pro-Putin. Greenwald refuses to bow to his demands because well ... bowing to such a demand is unethical in itself (and useless.) Anyone who requires you to denounce someone else to prove that you are not a sympathizer is playing an authoritarian power game and giving them the "denunciation" they demand will never fully satisfy.
We have a long history of witch hunts both real and metaphorical in this country. One of the defining characteristics is this requirement that one prove one's loyalty to the group. You may recall that the way they used to do it was to strap the accused witch to a chair and throw him or her into the water. If the accused floated to the top and lived he or she was obviously guilty. If he or she sank to the bottom and drowned, she was not. I think we can all see the problem with that.

Ricks is free to think what he wants about Greenwald and Snowden's political beliefs and if he has some evidence that they have signed on to Vladimir Putin's Ukraine agenda, as a top journalist I'm sure he can figure out a way to prove it. Otherwise this is just another example of a certain strain of creepy social coercion that rears its head in our culture from time to time and should be resisted by anyone who believes that administering loyalty oaths and demanding intellectual conformity, whether it comes  from a church, the government or one's social group, is antithetical to a free society. One would think that journalists would be at the top of that list of resistors, but if there's one thing I've learned in the past few years it's that there are no greater enforcers of elite membership rules than political journalists.

Of course, there are Americans who openly applaud Putin's actions in Ukraine for their own ends, but strangely I haven't seen much push back:
“We obviously see other things driving the news cycle,” a top industry executive said. “Ukraine keeps the focus off the evil 1 percent, so I guess we have Putin to thank for that.”
Well, he has been a good friend to oligarchs.



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