Thursday, August 10, 2017
Tarik Cyril Amar (Associate Professor of History) addresses Russia-Gate and Russia-Rage in a piece titled "It's Americans Who Have Undermined Democracy in America" (History News Network, 30 July 2017):
While Russian meddling is real, we need to face the fact that Putin’s not ultimately responsible for the rise of Trump.
Since democracy in America has given the most powerful office in the world to the least plausible candidate, many Americans have been reeling. The spectacle of President Trump is both sadly funny and terrifying. Even worse, that Trump became President not by some seizure of power but through an election is a national humiliation.
Small wonder then that there is soul-searching – except that, often, the soul searched is that of Russia. Russia-Gate is real: Russia’s meddling in the last election – to one extent or the other – is a fact. Yet something is still odd about what we can call Russia-Rage, the wider American response to the Russian intervention.
There is some simple self-promotion and ignorance – volunteer Western information warriors circulating blacklists of Russia’s “stooges” in a fit of Gonzo McCarthyism; reputable news organizations babbling about the “Cyrillic” regime and its “minarets” on Red Square. There also is some self-righteousness: many observers still have no issue with American meddling, including in recent Russian elections. Others assure us that the Kremlin’s mixing of business, politics, and subterfuge is “not what we do” – as little, presumably, as wars started under false pretexts, torture, or detention in legal black holes. Psychologically, a United States so powerful yet so innocent is a fascinating fantasy. But such biases are just ordinary “patriotic” reflexes common to many countries.