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McCarthyism Redux: Attacks on the Russian Media

Photo by Mike Maguire | CC BY 2.0

“We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not fearful men, not descended from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate and to defend causes which were for the moment unpopular.”

US broadcast journalist, Edward Murrow, spoke these words in the 1950s, protesting against the witchhunt of communists, alleged communists, and of anyone thought to evince anything resembling sympathy or support for ideas associated with communism by Senator Joseph McCarthy, inspired by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) hearings of the 1940s.

McCarthy and his team were able to sow fear, paranoia, and a rigid adherence not to democracy or free speech but to intolerance of dissent and the questioning of the received truths that sustained America’s engagement with the rest of the world.

In 2017 we are witnessing the rebirth of McCarthyism across the West in response to Russia’s recovery from the demise of the Soviet Union and the failed attempt to turn the country into a wholly owned subsidiary of Washington via the imposition of free market economic shock treatment thereafter. In the process critical thinking and reason has been sacrificed on the altar of Pavlovian conditioning and unreason, resulting in the embrace of hysterical Russophobic nostrums by a liberal political and media class for whom Russia can only ever exist as a vanquished foe or a foe that needs to be vanquished.

When a think-tank with the impertinence of naming itself ‘European Values’ feels emboldened to compile and publish a ‘hit list’ of over 2000 contributors to RT, as it did recently, made up of politicians, former diplomats, journalists, and academics from across the West, the foundations of Western liberal democracy start to crack.  And when the US Congress passes a bill to force RT America to register as a ‘foreign agent’ then we are talking war being waged not against Russian media per say, but the thousands of US citizens who work for Russian media and their right to ply their trade in the land of the free.

When it comes to foreign agents, isn’t it telling that neither the pro-Israel lobby group (AIPAC), nor its pro-Saudi counterpart (SAPRAC), are considered such, despite their undeniably and inarguably malign influence on US foreign policy.

There is nothing that RT or Sputnik International does that other state-funded broadcasters – the BBC, Voice of America, and France24 et al. – are not doing when it comes to their operations overseas. All state-funded media engage in cultural outreach, and each proffers an analysis via the prism of their own cultural, ideological and national worldview.

But let us not be naïve. It would be a mistake to divorce this ongoing, ever-intensifying campaign to drive RT and Sputnik out of existence from the wider geopolitical struggle over the Washington-led unipolar status quo and the multipolar alternative demanded by Moscow’s recovery and re-emergence as a global power, along with Beijing. In this regard, in the context of this geopolitical struggle, Russian media in the West is seen as low hanging fruit, an easy target by which to render Russia a bloody nose.

Does anyone really believe for a moment that if Russia had or did accept its place as a neo-satellite of Washington that this campaign against RT and Sputnik would be taking place? If both media channels were echo chambers of the Washington Consensus you can best believe they would be allowed to operate freely and without molestation, without their employees or contributors being traduced as ‘Kremlin propagandists’ or de facto ‘Russian agents’.

The entire thing is a sham – a malicious and ideologically driven attempt to police the portals of news dissemination and analysis to the point where rigid acceptance and obeisance to the aforementioned Washington Consensus, responsible for upending the lives of millions at home and abroad over the years, is total.

There is a simple rule of thumb that will never let you down. It dictates that those who tell you who your enemy should be are usually your enemy. It begs the question of whether Russophobia has become the acceptable form of racism for a liberal class whose hypocrisy is only exceeded by its mendacity?

As for those on the so-called left who have remained silent, or worse are gloating over the moves to shut down Russian media, they are like people feeding a crocodile hoping it will eat them last. The precedent being set by this anti-Russian hysteria is self-evident, one that it would be folly to ignore. Thus when the day comes that Russian media is driven out of existence, theirs will be a hollow victory that bespeaks the collapse of anything resembling opposition to the neoliberal, interventionist, and imperialist status quo.

“Never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

 

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John Wight is the author of a politically incorrect and irreverent Hollywood memoir – Dreams That Die – published by Zero Books. He’s also written five novels, which are available as Kindle eBooks. You can follow him on Twitter at @JohnWight1

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