The narrative the far left likes to promote about Russia is that it is morally superior to America and a victim of its imperialist agenda. Intellectuals like Glenn Greenwald, Noam Chomsky, and conspiracy theorists like Caitlin Johnstone routinely make light of Russian crimes against the West, the appalling racism in Russian society, and Vladimir Putin's nakedly fascist government.
In far left circles, America is regarded as the world's most dangerous state and its society the most morally depraved. America is the source of all things racist and imperialist, and no evidence to the contrary will sway their opinion. As Jonathan Chait notes, Glenn Greenwald holds views on Russia and Vladimir Putin that are so illogical that he has now found himself inadvertently supporting virulent nationalism and Islamaphobia:
The nationalists admire Putin as a champion of white Christian culture against Islam, a predisposition Greenwald does not share at all. Greenwald has, however, defended Russia’s menacing of its neighbors, and repeatedly questioned its ties to WikiLeaks...
Greenwald is not a racist, and is the opposite of a nationalist, and yet his worldview has brought him into close alignment with that of the alt-right. A Greenwaldian paranoid would see this quasi-alliance as a conspiracy. The reality of his warped defenses of Trump is merely that of a monomaniac unable to relinquish his obsessions.
Leftist dogma (or monomania) insists that Russia cannot be criticized, because the West is so much worse.
This extends to all aspects of politics, including Russiagate, which is, according to the fringe left, either a conspiracy theory or entirely justifiable given America's interference in foreign democracies. Writes Caitlin Johnstone:
It amazes me that more people aren't willing to call this like it is. No, it would not be wrong for Russia to interfere in America's elections. Yes, what America did to Russia absolutely would make a proportionate retaliation okay. Of course it would...
If Americans don't like election meddling, they need to demand that their government stops doing it. As long as it remains the very worst offender in that department, the US is entitled to nothing other than the entire world meddling in its elections.
So contrary to every legal precedent and international law, election meddling is just fine, as long as it is done in retaliation. (It is unsurprising that Johnstone has also loudly argued that Russiagate is a "Deep State"conspiracy theory, making her position on the issue about as coherent as a Sarah Palin speech).
Fascism, Russian Style
While Russia is a complex, culturally rich and an incredibly interesting country, it is also a deeply racist, ethno-fascist state with a sociopathic dictator who hates gays and thinks nothing of illegally annexing neighboring countries. While America is no liberal utopia, being black or gay in the former Soviet Union is, by all accounts, not much fun. Just take a look at this story about a black English soccer player who is so afraid of Russian racism that he is forbidding his family from coming to watch him play in the World Cup this year. Via the Guardian:
Danny Rose has asked his family not to travel to Russia for the World Cup because the England defender fears they may be racially abused. The Tottenham left-back says he has “no faith” that the authorities can effectively tackle the matter and described Fifa’s latest punishments as “disgusting” and “laughable”.
Russian football has been overshadowed by racism incidents for a number of years and the country’s football union was fined £22,000 in relation to racist chants at a friendly match against France in March.
Rose, who said he was racially abused and showered with stones at an England Under-21 game in Serbia in 2012, told the Evening Standard: “If I’m racially abused out there, nothing is going to change – it shouldn’t be like that but it is.
“I’m not worried for myself, but I’ve told my family I don’t want them going out there because of racism and anything else that may happen. My dad’s really upset. I could hear it in his voice. He said he may never get a chance again to come and watch me in a World Cup.”
The racism in Russia is so appalling that the England squad have had to prepare specifically for the racial abuse they know is coming. While leftists like to claim the US is the bastion of all things racist, the reality is that Russia is far, far worse when it comes to its treatment of minorities -- and this comes from the top down. As the Washington Post noted, the Russian government was able to exploit racial tension in the US election through hacking social media because of its own history of virulent ethno-nationalism:
We still don’t know exactly how any of these social media efforts informed Americans’ voting choices in 2016. But none of us should be surprised that Russia exploited American racism to achieve its own foreign policy objectives. As a Russian supremacist state, the former USSR understood very well how to weaponize racism. It wielded Russian homogeneity against its own minorities during its 70-plus years of existence.
African migrants in Russia describe their existence there "like living in hell on Earth," where they are routinely attacked and racially abused. Reported the LA Times :
The migrants often end up stranded, with no official documents that would allow them to get decent jobs and little or no knowledge of the Russian language. The most common work they find is distributing fliers, advertisements and free magazines around subway stations, jobs that earn them less than $50 week. Most live up to 10 people to a room. Compounding these hardships is the unfettered racial abuse. John Steven Abumen, 39, a Nigerian who works part time as an English tutor, said he had been attacked three times in the 15 years he has lived in Russia. He has been stabbed in the arm, suffered a broken wrist and has a protruding lump on his upper chest, an eye injury and a dislocated knee that never healed properly. He walks with a limp but can't afford the surgery that doctors have recommended. A large welt on his shaved head is the result of being hit with an iron bar, he said. "I woke up in the hospital three days later, " Abumen recalled. "I was almost blinded. I still don't sleep properly now."
Acknowledging the fact that Russia is an incredibly racist country does not detract from the fact that the United States has its own serious problem with racism -- a nuance those on the hard left seem not to be able to comprehend. One can be simultaneously against racism in Russia and against racism in America, just as one can be opposed to Russia interfering in American democracy, and America interfering with another country's democracy. Of course when your ideology insists that there are no grey areas in life, you can no longer be trusted to objectively report on, well, anything.