Chutzpah

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Here’s the score, boys and girls. This is what happens, sooner or later, to everyone who has a beef, however minor, with the Putin regime. They get a visit from a “policeman” who is indistinguishable, in his behavior, looks, and speech, from an ordinary thug.

Today, it happened to my friends Lika and Alik, who are not only some of the nicest folks I’ve ever met, but run the invaluable Jewish Community Center on Rubinstein Street on a shoestring budget.

Here’s what Lika wrote about their encounter with the Putinist police:

I just got a visit from two plainclothes “policemen.” What was their business? Literally: “Have you been writting all kinds of crap on Facebook about wogs getting beaten up?” I am conveying what they said to me. The prosecutor’s office found your message, which you wrote one and a half years ago. We need a clarification from you. I see he’s holding printouts from the Sova Center. I told them they had woken up on time, since one and half years had passed since then. After I said that, one of the “policeman” was rude to me. “Why do you write garbage? Do you have nothing to do?” I asked him not to talk to me like that and show me his ID. He refused and behaved very aggressively. My husband tried to take his picture on the phone, but he threatened to smash the phone. He really was holding papers from the prosecutor’s office. Supposedly, they had been given three days to take care of the matter. I said I could deal with it on Friday morning. The conversation ended with our promising to call the police and closing the door.

There is no doubt they were from the police, judging by their behavior.))

I am writing a complaint to the prosecutor’s office.

Here is a photo of one of the “heroes.”

___________________________

I myself just got chewed out, on a leftist mailing list, for writing a “screed” about how Chris Hedges and Noam Chomsky had sold out to Putinism by appearing on RT. What is worse, the super-righteous Hedges, an ordained minister, if I’m not mistaken, has even started presenting a program on the channel.

Why do I object so strongly to this? Because whether they know it or not, Hedges, Chomsky, and everyone who behaves like them is putting their stamp of approval on the way this country is misruled by thugs like the ones who just visited and threatened my friends Lika and Alik.

Make no mistake: this is not a one-off, random incident. This is something that has happened millions of times, and often in much rougher form, since Putin took charge of Russia eighteen years ago.

So, when you say to yourself that your “anti-imperialist” (or whatever) message is so earth-shakingly important that you’ll go on a TV channel paid for by Russian taxpayers, but run as a flagrant anti-US, anti-western, pro-Assadist, pro-Putinist propaganda outlet by thieves, crooks, and thugs who openly intimidate, assault, and sometimes murder these same taxpayers for the “criminal” act of disagreeing with the general line or drawing attention to a wrongdoing or demanding that state officials, including police and judges, actually do their jobs in keeping with the Russian Constitution, the Russian law codes, and the international and European conventions on human rights to which Russia is still a signatory, you have to have a lot of chutzpah.

In fact, you have to have decided, whether consciously or not, that ordinary taxpaying Russians who don’t toe the Putinist line are your enemies, and you don’t mind at all if they’re crushed in the dirt by absolute fucking scumbags as long as self-righteous snake oil salesmen like Noam Chomsky and Chris Hedges have yet another “outlet” for their tiresome message, which we all memorized years ago and which, in fact, they’ve had no trouble at all disseminating at will to whoever will listen for years on end.

Pretending that they’re “forced” to go on RT, because they can’t get a hearing anywhere else, is the last refuge of an “anti-imperialist” scoundrel. TRR

2 thoughts on “Chutzpah

  1. Not everyone who appears on RT is a putinist thug or stooge. The propaganda spread by RT was originally very subtle by American standards, which is to say that it only aimed to induce self-doubt in Americans, not directly to overthrow the U.S. government or draw the U.S. into the Russian orbit.

    For that purpose, anything that to a follower of the sinister but nevertheless ridiculous A. Dugin would be a sign of weakness in a country was encouraged and presented more or less as it came from the source–that is, without redaction or censorship. This includes all forms of New Deal liberalism (Thom Hartmann, Hedges) as well as the frank insanity of quasi-fascists like Jones and the mesmeric libertarian gobbledygook of the fellow whose name I forget, who presents their equivalent of Wall Street Week.

    When anyone in the U.S. saw a friend in an RT broadcast, s[he] was being laughed at by the Great Russian chauvinists who run the show. It goes without saying that anyone even vaguely on the left falls into the clown category. But even would-be Putinesque fascists in this country are clowns to the Russians–something that the characteristic narcissism of Americans generally renders invisible to the clowns themselves, most of whom are completely absorbed in the imaginary cinematic impact of themselves being themselves and cannot see beyond the self-reflected glow of their own star-spangled glory.

    It goes without saying that, to anyone who can read between the lines, the subtlety and intelligence of RT in the long run was never more than camouflage for a stream of characteristically Russian would-be imperialist nationalism that is, in its own way, as helplessly self-revealing as U.S. individualistic narcissism. Like the sparkling waters of all conservatisms everywhere (however refined and no matter what their adherents believe they are doing), this stream debouches in a sewer of genocide in defense of international social inequality

    If you knew this, watching RT a few years back made for bitter, but very entertaining, viewing up to a point. Furthermore, the propaganda being then of the very soft variety, inevitably a certain amount of actual information was used in preparing it, which meant that anyone not given to cheerleading (what Americans call “positive thinking”) and equipped with a modicum of critical intelligence could on occasion glean knowledge from it that was not readily available elsewhere.

    Recently, however, the Russians have stepped up their game. The undoubtable and possibly partly successful attempt to meddle in the last U.S. election is a case in point, reflecting a new aggressiveness. Sputnik News, a separate operation, has increased its presence and puts on bot a website and a radio service in major U.S. cities that consists largely of interminable interviews with Russian officials and fake news in support of Kremlin policy.

    Ostensibly “left” figures like Mike Whitney and John Wight publish extensively on Sputnik News, and may reasonably be assumed to be on the payroll. Much of what these people write sounds like Russian government propaganda and probably is. In the meantime, Third Way delusionals (Moon of Alabama) and outright Nazis and fascists have taken to praising Putin and Assad in a completely frank, revealing, and unsubtle way.

    There is, in short, a difference between the old, “soft-line” RT and the newer, harder propaganda centering on Sputnik News, which is reflected on RT recently.

    All of this leads to the question of whether Hedges and Chomsky are actually shilling for Putin or merely being used, per the “old” RT strategy, to increase, as the Duginists see it, the fatal weakness induced in Americans by free speech in all its forms.

    This article shows no evidence of Hedges or Chomsky being redacted or controlled by Putin forces. The reason for this is that neither one of them is. The accusation is pure guilt by association.

    It is unfair to both of these deeply flawed but indispensable dissidents to misrepresent their activities as those of puppets, particularly when there are so many alleged leftists who actually are dancing to a Russian government tune and appear to be getting paid for it.

    A case must be made for rejecting RT in all its forms now that Assad and Putin have won in Syria and things are as they are in the U.S. But Chomsky, for all his faults, is certainly not in any global sense a “scoundrel” and nor is the far less intellectually redoubtable Hedges, despite recent accusations of plagiarism. Saying so is mere hysteria, and only serves to divide the so-called Resistance even further in the U.S., as if it weren’t divided enough.

    The necessary footnote here is that it has become nearly impossible in the U.S. to make an honest living as an actual journalist–the powers behind RT no doubt knew this when they started luring dissidents into their parlor. News itself–fact itself–is under assault on a broad front in the U.S., from the faunlike, capering whimsicality of English professors on the fading margins of postmodernism–who gave us Richard Spencer–to the increasingly threatened “objectivity” of sources like The New York Times.

    To dismiss this problem as being of no consequence is in itself contemptible. The false forum offered by RT was attractive to so many legitimate figures precisely because it filled a gap that must now remain forever vacant. We can’t afford RT any more, but there is nothing to fill the gap–and that is a very big problem indeed.

  2. Thanks for your incredibly thoughtful and provocative analysis, Farans. You’re certainly right about lots of things to which I have never given much thought. But the point of this post and the one thematically preceding it (about Hedges, Chomsky, and The Rolling Stones) is that there has never been any sign — at least that I have ever seen — from the beneficiaries of RT’s largesse that they are aware there is anything wrong with the Putin regime or that the media outlet they’re using has been paid for with the labor and, hence, the taxes of millions of Russians, many of whom would rather have the money spent on something closer to home, I can imagine, and many of whom are not getting a good deal in life and need an activist social democratic state (which is how the Russian Constitution defines the Russian Federation, essentially) helping them instead of pursuing Putin and Dugin’s doomed dreams of world domination. Of course there are journalists who have trouble finding paying jobs, but Chomsky, I’m reasonably sure, doesn’t have to worry about making money, nor does he have trouble getting his ideas across to a very large number of people all over the world. Hedges is not in Chomsky’s league, intellectually or in terms of fame, but I don’t think he has trouble getting his message out or getting gigs, either. So what forces people like them into RT’s open arms? You’ve hit on some of the reasons, but not all of them. The point I’m trying to make is that ordinary Russians are simply non-entities to them. The evidence suggests they have never given a thought to what their struggles and miseries are, and whether Russians themselves want to fund all this “free speech” mixed with Russian imperialist discursive expansion. But I think the default mode for most of RT’s non-Russian presenters and guests is there is no one in Russia with whom they could be in solidarity and thus nothing to trouble their conscience when they appear on RT. In fact, there are lots of such people, and a little due diligence on the part of beautiful souls like Chomsky and Hedges could have revealed to them that they were getting mixed up with a really nasty bunch of gangsters. But the thought seems to have never occurred to them. That’s why I call them scoundrels. People who are that clueless about such a vital fact of their work are not indispensable in any way. We need a new generation of activists and thinkers who will never let crummy foreign tyrannies foot their bill.

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