I’ve mentioned before that I’m limiting my media intake, especially television, because I just can’t handle the “all Trump all the time” format that every channel has adopted. And I quit the seething cesspool that is Facebook several years ago after trying it for just a few months. (Pro tip: If you are not paying for the product, you are the product.) So I don’t really know how much coverage this got last week, but I’m thinking it wasn’t given the importance it deserves.
Federal lawmakers on Wednesday released samples of 3,000 Facebook ads purchased by Russian operatives during the 2016 presidential campaign. The ads conveyed the wide range of influence Russian-linked groups tried to enact on Americans – but one set of ads in particular hit close to home.
Last year, two Russian Facebook pages organized dueling rallies in front of the Islamic Da’wah Center of Houston, according to information released by U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican.
Heart of Texas, a Russian-controlled Facebook group that promoted Texas secession, leaned into an image of the state as a land of guns and barbecue and amassed hundreds of thousands of followers. One of their ads on Facebook announced a noon rally on May 21, 2016 to “Stop Islamification of Texas.”
A separate Russian-sponsored group, United Muslims of America, advertised a “Save Islamic Knowledge” rally for the same place and time.
On that day, protesters organized by the two groups showed up on Travis Street in downtown Houston, a scene that appeared on its face to be a protest and a counterprotest. Interactions between the two groups eventually escalated into confrontation and verbal attacks.
It’s going to be a while yet before the various investigations reveal just how badly we got played. It’s bad enough that tens of millions of people bought into the carefully cultivated reality teevee image of a successful businessman, but Russian trolls were everywhere on the internet amplifying his divisive and hateful message. Their main objective was to create the chaos we are all living now, with a 70 year old toddler and his minions destroying our government. (As I write this, he is in Asia laying to rest the last remnants of the myth of Amurkin exceptionalism.)
The question I keep coming back around to is Why? Not why are Russian trolls fucking with dumbass Texans? Everybody does that because it’s so easy, and their are so many of them. No, the question is, why are their Russian trolls at all?
Vladimir Putin is a kleptocrat who, having stolen untold billions from the country he rules, is widely believed to be — secretly — the richest man in the world. It is difficult for me to imagine greed and selfishness on that scale, but at least I can understand it as his prime motivator.
What I can’t understand is why Putin is spending hundreds of millions of dollars stoking hatred and fucking around with democratic elections all over the world. If greed truly is his prime motivator, what does he personally gain from creating chaos and destabilizing democratic governments all over the world?
If these actions are not motivated by greed, then by what? My only other guesses are power and spite. And since, generally speaking, destabilization leads to de-consolidation of power, I am left to ponder upon spite. Could Putin’s hatred for Michelle’s husband be so strong that he’s willing to tear everything down for revenge? (In this country that would make him a Republican candidate for the House of Representatives.)
All I know for sure is that our reality teevee preznit openly admires Putin. That would be pretty fucking scary if he weren’t such a buffoon.