When It Comes to Sowing Discord in America, Russians Can't Compete with Americans

I learned it from watching you, Uncle Sam!


Last week the feds accused a Russian woman named Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova of what CNN is calling a "conspiracy to hurt American democracy." So I read the criminal complaint, and I found that her activities looked a lot like…well, American democracy. As I write this morning over at The Atlantic,

Christian Anti-Communist Crusade

The criminal complaint against Khusyaynova claims that she and her co-conspirators aimed "to sow division and discord in the U.S. political system" by "creating social and political polarization." To that end, it says, they adopted false online identities and used them to "inflame passions on a wide variety of topics, including immigration, gun control and the Second Amendment, the Confederate flag, race relations, LGBT issues, the Women's March, and the NFL national anthem debate."

In other words, they mimicked a bunch of all-American politicians and pundits, many of whom spend the home stretch of every election trying to polarize us and inflame our passions, often by invoking those very issues. And then the Russians added a little more shouting to the din….

Over the past two years, there's been a steady drumbeat of reports about Russians spreading fake news, creating fake social-media accounts, and forming fake groups that try to organize real demonstrations on U.S. soil. The reporters frequently add the appropriate caveats and cautions, but even then their stories are often framed in ways that scapegoat Moscow for America's domestic political divides. (When The New York Times runs a headline like "How Russia Harvested American Rage to Reshape U.S. Politics," note how it puts the Russians, not the raging Americans, in the driver's seat.) This country has a long history of blaming its problems on alien infections, and it's easy to insert these Facebook pod-people into that old legend.

So it surely matters that these stories tend to feature far more examples of Russians imitating Americans than influencing Americans.

To read the whole argument, go here. And if you'd like to read the Khusyaynova complaint too, it's here. Its most meta moment comes when one of the Russian trolls, wearing the mask of an American liberal, accuses Moscow of interfering with our elections: "Still think this Russia thing is a hoax and a witch hunt? Because a lot of witches just got indicted."

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  1. … because of course, we would all be in agreement and discourse would be quiet, civil and respectful, if not for those evil Russians.

  2. While this article isn’t bad, the other Atlantic article you link to in the piece blames everything on Trump and Russia without a single criticism or acknowledgement that the Democrats and lefty media play every bit as large of a role in the dysfunction and toxic environment.

    We can vote our politicians out. We can’t get rid of the corrupt fucking assholes in the press, though. What’s the solution? How do you fight it?

    1. While this article isn’t bad, the other Atlantic article you link to in the piece

      I don’t think I linked to any other Atlantic articles in the piece. Are you referring to one of their advertising links?

    2. We can vote our politicians out.

      No we can;t, and that’s the problem. If you want to stop eating meat, you can; you aren’t stuck with the choice of beef, pork, or chicken. We voters don’t even get that big a choice; ours is hamburger or ground round.

  3. The criminal complaint against Khusyaynova claims that she and her co-conspirators aimed “to sow division and discord in the U.S. political system” by “creating social and political polarization.”


    1. Because they’re evil Russians and thus not eligible for First Amendment protections, unlike US citizens and the undocumented democrats to our south.

    2. Yeah, if I’m going to read a criminal complaint, I’m gonna need what the actual violation of the actual criminal code is.

      And if either of “sow division and discord in the U.S. political system” or “creating social and political polarization” are language included in any criminal law, then it’s some legislators that need to be lined up and shot– not some fuzzy foreigners.

  4. Also, it’s the guy in the blue suit, front and center. The godless pinko is holding the Good Book upside down. Ivan’s only deity is the state.

    1. No, if you believe the rhetoric of some Christians and pastors, Jesus was a commie. So the answer is “All of them.”

    2. Nah, it’s woman in the red dress. Because commies wear red, right? Or it’s the bald guy holding his head like he’s got a headache. Like you said, ‘Ivan’s only deity is the state,” so naturally sitting in church would give the Godless heathen a headache.

  5. When illegal aliens vote, is that foreign influence in our elections?

  6. >>>Which one is the Communist?

    guy up front is the only one not checking his phone.

    1. Trick question, it’s the guy in the pulpit.

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