US media has published a report on further Russian attempts to further capitalize on the recent growing controversy in the US over so-called “Critical Race Theory.” According to the Daily Beast report:
June 30, 2021 Galvanized by the results of recent American polls and the popularity of Russian President Vladimir Putin with Fox News and its audiences, the Kremlin is proceeding with a new charm offensive targeting Western conservatives. Russia cannot offer much in terms of gun rights, freedom of speech, or standard of living—at least not for those excluded from Putin’s mob-like circle of trust. Rather, the Kremlin intends to attract Western converts with another type of currency—bigotry—turning Russia into the land of ultimate political incorrectness, the world’s anti-woke capital.
The report goes on to identify US school curriculum as the basis for what the editor of RT (formerly Russia Today) is claiming to be the desire of some US families to relocate to Russia:
The topic of inappropriate lessons being taught in Western schools surfaced last week on the state TV show The Evening with Vladimir Soloviev. Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of state media outlet RT, claimed to be personally helping multiple foreign families hoping to relocate to Russia. The reason for their desired move, Simonyan claimed, is what the children are being taught in school. Reminding the audience of Simonyan’s status as a prominent Kremlin insider with direct access to the Russian president, host Vladimir Soloviev immediately hinted that Simonyan ought to speak directly to Putin to expedite the process. Back in January, the spokeswoman for Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Maria Zakharova, told Soloviev that she has received a flood of inquiries from American Trump supporters imploring her to provide information about obtaining Russian citizenship. She seemed particularly impressed with communications from a certain blogger, who immigrated to the United States from the USSR and was now interested in going back to Russia, allegedly fearing “repressions.” Zakharova didn’t specify whether she was talking about the Russian YouTuber who posted videos at the Capitol on Jan. 6 and subsequently went on Russian state TV to blame “antifa” for the violence. The Kremlin has long been toying with the idea of attracting Western supporters—and even potential émigrés—to side with Russia, and even move there.
Read the rest here.
The report adds that Kremlin propagandists rely heavily on Fox News, with clips featuring Tucker Carlson regularly appearing on Russia’s most popular state TV programs.
Since November 2020, the Global Influence Operations Report (GIOR) has been documenting Russian attempts to sow discord in the US over Critical Race Theory, defined by a US educational publications as follows:
Critical race theory is an academic concept that is more than 40 years old. The core idea is that racism is a social construct, and that it is not merely the product of individual bias or prejudice, but also something embedded in legal systems and policies. The basic tenets of critical race theory, or CRT, emerged out of a framework for legal analysis in the late 1970s and early 1980s created by legal scholars Derrick Bell, Kimberlé Crenshaw, and Richard Delgado, among others. A good example is when, in the 1930s, government officials literally drew lines around areas deemed poor financial risks, often explicitly due to the racial composition of inhabitants. Banks subsequently refused to offer mortgages to Black people in those areas.
However, as the Washington Post reported in March, Christopher Rufo, a well-known conservative activist in the US had tweeted that his goal was to use CRT as a catchall concept “to annex the entire range of cultural constructions that are unpopular with Americans. The apparent disinformation effort appears to have wildly succeeded. As NBC News has observed:
Conflicts like this are playing out in cities and towns across the country, amid the rise of at least 165 local and national groups that aim to disrupt lessons on race and gender, according to an NBC News analysis of media reports and organizations’ promotional materials. Reinforced by conservative think tanks, law firms and activist parents, these groups have found allies in families frustrated over Covid-19 restrictions in schools and have weaponized the right’s opposition to critical race theory, turning it into a political rallying point. While the efforts vary, they share strategies of disruption, publicity and mobilization. The groups swarm school board meetings, inundate districts with time-consuming public records requests and file lawsuits and federal complaints alleging discrimination against white students. They have become media darlings in conservative circles and made the debate over critical race theory a national issue.
Our reporting on Russian efforts to promote the righting in the US has included:
- A November 2020 report on an RT OpEd claiming that Democratic “elites” were “peddling equally irrational views about catastrophic climate change, critical race theory, and identity politics.”
- A report in June on how RT was defending Christopher Rufo, identified above, and who RT characterized as an American conservative activist known for his attacks on what RT described as “neo-Marxist critical race theory.”
- A report earlier this week that actors linked to Russian disinformation operations are targeting American far-right audiences on alternative online platforms.
In 2017, the NYT characterized RT as follows:
Analysts are sharply divided about the influence of RT. Pointing to its minuscule ratings numbers, many caution against overstating its impact. Yet focusing on ratings may miss the point, says Peter Pomerantsev, who wrote a book three years ago that described Russia’s use of television for propaganda. “Ratings aren’t the main thing for them,” he said. “These are campaigns for financial, political and media influence.” RT and Sputnik propel those campaigns by helping create the fodder for thousands of fake news propagators and providing another outlet for hacked material that can serve Russian interests, said Ben Nimmo, who studies RT for the Atlantic Council. Whatever its impact, RT is unquestionably a case study in the complexity of modern propaganda. It is both a slick modern television network, dressed up with great visuals and stylish presenters, and a content farm that helps feed the European far right. Viewers find it difficult to discern exactly what is journalism and what is propaganda, what may be “fake news” and what is real but presented with a strong slant.