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COLUMN: Can we stop talking about Russia already?



Last week’s release of the Nunes Memo by President Donald Trump refocused our attention on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, yet again. 

Of course, the president believes he’s totally vindicated by the contents of the memo, which purportedly casts doubt on the methods the FBI used to obtain a warrant to wiretap a former member of the Trump campaign, Carter Page. 

Republicans like John McCain, however, seem to disagree that the memo discredits the Russia investigation by making it a partisan battle

According to Politico, one of the attorneys representing Donald Trump's associates believes Mueller could act as early as this spring to bring obstruction of justice charges against the president

Personally, I don’t care either way.

That’s not to say that the president shouldn’t be held accountable for breaking the law, but I think Americans put on a stunning display of hypocrisy when they decry Russia for meddling in our free and open democratic elections. 

According to data from Carnegie Mellon University, the United States government has interfered in foreign elections 81 times between 1946 and 2000. This figure doesn’t include the numerous times the U.S. has orchestrated military-backed coups and regime changes when the American government didn't like an elected candidate.

Have Americans forgotten the first 9/11, September 11, 1973, when U.S.-backed forces overthrew Chile’s democratically elected socialist president, Salvador Allende? To replace him, our government installed Augusto Pinochet, who would become one of the most notorious dictators of the era. As a result of the coup, thousands of Chileans were killed, imprisoned, exiled or disappeared.

 “I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its own people,” said former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. 

Maybe the Russians were following our lead and felt the issue was too important to be left to American voters.

It wouldn’t even be fair to characterize Russia’s actions as a taste of our own medicine, as the saying goes. The U.S.'s meddling was as if it paraded through countries administering Vicodin — Russia gave us baby aspirin. 

What we know about Russia’s interference in our election is that a company called the Internet Research Agency published misinformation online for 126 million Americans to see leading up to our election

Facebook testified before Congress that the Russian company purchased or published more than 80,000 pieces of divisive content, many of these advertisements concerned gun rights, LGBT issues and the Black Lives Matter movement.

One such ad, for instance, featured a picture of a black woman firing a rifle, which was probably meant to illicit racist reactions.

What concerns me most isn’t that Russia infiltrated the American digital landscape to promote these messages, but that the messages worked. 

We should be focusing less on the intentions of the Russians and more so on the feeble nature of American discourse, which is apparently susceptible to influence through the proliferation of Facebook advertisements. 

Let’s stop talking about Russia and start talking about the millions of voters who based their ballots off the subject of an internet meme. 

That’s worth talking about.

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