Louise Mensch is a former member of Parliament who gained attention in the United States by exposing Trump’s ties to Russia; her career since has been a conspiratorial clusterfuck, an unrelenting tide of unsupported accusations and conspiracy theories that would make any Redditor blush. In short, Mensch, a former Tory, is quickly becoming the Alex Jones of American centrists – but far more damaging.
That Russia interfered in the 2016 election, or at least covertly supported Trump, is a fact. What’s not is Mensch’s view that the Russians left their fingerprints all over, well, everything.
Andrew Breitbert, the bloated, clogged heart of the media empire of the same name, died of a heart attack. As someone who saw Breitbart speak live, this is by far the least surprising thing to ever happen. His speech consisted of screaming at the top of his voice that every last protestor (at a rally with a counter-protestor:protestor ratio of 10:1) should go to Hell. But if you ask Mensch, Breitbart was murdered by Russian agents. Shootings such as that in Istanbul become Russian false flags; so, too, are the sexts of Anthony Weiner. Believing foreign corruption is needed to make Anthony Weiner send a dick pic is truly the most unbelievable thing in American politics: I’d sooner accept that Area 51 is holding aliens than that Anthony Weiner needs any prompting at all to take a picture of his junk.
People aligned with Trump are part of the Russian plot. So are people opposed to Trump and Russia. Putin’s grand scheme includes both Trump and Bernie Sanders, liberal and conservative journalists, Putin’s critics and Putin’s supporters, statesmen and Twitter randos. You get the sense that the only people definitively not part of the conspiracy are…Mensch and her supporters.
None of Mensch’s accusations are supported with evidence, but that hasn’t stopped her from compiling a list of 200 plus people she accuses of being Russian agents. Secretive lists of Russians used to throw around accusations of treason is something that’s never gone disastrously, horribly wrong in American history.
But there are moments that go from “ridiculous fringe” to out-and-out offensive, and deeply troubling. Mensch also claimed the demonstrations in Ferguson were Russian operations, and so is voter suppression. And elsewhere a brewing xenophobia lurks: TIME Magazine representing Russian influence by showing the White House morphing into, not, say, the Kremlin, but a goddamn Orthodox cathedral; or Congressman Ted Lieu making up a story about his child asking if Trump is “part Russian”.
“The persistence of people making up stories about their children in the face of constant ridicule is truly inspiring,” said my nine-year old.
One of my favorite instances of this is this Tweet:
Cyrillic autocracy. The authoritarian regime of…a alphabet! A writing system that’s not even exclusive to the Russian language. Yes, truly Putin is trolling us all with his devious dictatorship of the weird-looking letters. First, our democracy – next, our very Latin letters!
Ivan the Terrible didn’t campaign in Wisconsin either.
Russia absolutely interfered in American politics. But so much of the Russian conspiracy theories propagated by Mensch and her comrades feel like dodges. If our election was controlled by a foreign power, then why bother looking at what went wrong? That a vile candidate won over too many of your fellow citizens is scary; it’s easier to place the blame on an outsider, a mastermind pulling the strings. It’s the same impulse behind all conspiracy theories: a kind of comforting terror, the idea that the world is not just chaos, but that there’s some reason behind it, because someone – even an evil someone – planning what happens is preferable to no one.
But whatever Russia did do to our election, Vladimir Putin didn’t make Hillary Clinton not campaign in Wisconsin or Michigan; he didn’t force the Democrats to embrace pragmatic centrism at the worst possible time; he didn’t make Americans hateful and paranoid. Nor did he ferment unrest in Ferguson, or make it difficult for African-Americans to vote: American racism did that. Every moment spent spinning outlandish conspiracy theories is a moment America’s left isn’t looking at their own mistakes – and it’s bringing us one moment closer to Trumpism’s reign continuing.
And you must always remember the difference between a government and its people. Criticizing a leader must never turn into a demonization of a culture; after all, there are far, far more Russian victims of Putin than American ones. Putin is Russian. So is Pussy Riot.
There’s more to dig into, but my borscht is getting cold…er, so dosvedanya, comrades.