Hello there! I’m a British or possibly Irish author and I’m here to tell you why the mainstream media, also known as any media outlet that fails to report the Kremlin’s talking points without question, can’t be trusted when it comes to the topic of Russia. Marvel at what an independent thinker and contrarian I am!
Typically I start by claiming to have absolutely no prior knowledge about Russia. I might demonize the media again by claiming they were my only source of knowledge about the country, and thus my head was full of “Russophobic” stereotypes. But guess what? I actually went to Russia! Sure, it might have been for only a couple months, or maybe on and off for a few years. I may never have been conversational nor literate in Russian and thus unable to communicate with ordinary people who couldn’t speak English, but I’ve been to Russia and you haven’t! This is my first step towards establishing my authority to talk down to you, the obviously ignorant Westerner whose only source of information on Russia is no doubt Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II.
In this part of the article, I’m going to start dropping in all kinds of Russian cultural and historical references. None of this really indicates any acumen in Russian history or politics, but I’m betting on the likelihood that it’s more than my audience knows, and thus I build my credentials as a Russia commentator. Usually I’ll start by making references to Russian literary figures such as Pushkin and Tolstoy, but I’ll also probably throw in Lermontov, Turgenev, or Bulgakov just to show you that I’m a bit more sophisticated than you when it comes to Russian literature.
At this point I’ll need to make some references about things you actually see in Russia, just to remind you that yes, I have been there, and it’s practically my old stomping ground. I’ll refer to certain buildings or landmarks. I’ll often imply there is something magical about them. Here are a few more random Russian references just in case I haven’t fully established my street cred with the readers: Samovars. Banya. Kvas. Vodka. Red Square.
Now that I’ve shown you what a Russia expert I am, it’s time for the main thrust of the article. First I’m going to slander all Western journalists by denigrating their knowledge about Russia. They are no Russia-knowers, rest assured of that! Oh sure, they may have spent more time in Russia than me, and they may speak the language, but I’m not going to bring up either of those points. Instead I’m going to question their Russia street cred and then I’m going to demonstrate my true expertise by spitting out random factoids about Russian history that one could easily get from Wikipedia.
For example, did you know that Russia has been invaded many times in its history? Sure, probably millions, if not tens of millions of English-speakers are well aware of this basic fact, but I’m going to act as though you, the readers, do not know. I’m also going to imply that other Western journalists are unaware of this fact as well. See I know, which means I know Russia better than them.
After writing about Russia’s historical invasions, I’m then going to engage in a massive leap of logic and claim that this justifies Russia’s actions in Ukraine, for example. And speaking of Ukraine, I spent a good amount of time on Wikipedia in order to find more factoids I can put here to convince you that Ukraine and Russia are really the same country. Just to be sure, I didn’t just get my info from Wikipedia. I also talked to some Russian friends who work for the Russian state media and they explained to me how Ukraine is really an eternal part of Russia and not a real country. Are you, an ignorant Westerner who has never been to Russia, going to seriously suggest that Russians don’t know their own history?
Now here’s the part where I condemn the West for provoking Russia into invading a sovereign nation. I’ll talk about NATO expansion while ignoring pesky facts such as the near-total lack of permanent garrisons in new member states or the fact that the US was closing down bases and pulling its forces out of Europe prior to 2015. Naturally I won’t explain how any of the actual NATO expansion actually harmed Russia in any measurable way. Then I’ll imply that the West tried to pull Ukraine into NATO even though this was clearly not the case. At this point I might concede that Russia has been behaving at least somewhat badly, but I’ll make it clear that this is totally the West’s fault.
This is the best part. I’ll pretend I’m just a patriotic dissident in my homeland and lament the breakdown in relations between the West and Russia. I’m totally oblivious to the fact that the Kremlin and its supporters actually don’t want peace between our nations but in fact they’d rather see our country collapse like theirs did in 1991, so don’t expect me to let this pesky reality get in the way. What I will do is demand that something must be done to repair relations between Russia and the West, and lucky you- I just happen to have a plan.
Here I outline my plan for how Russia and the West can reach a compromise and coexist in peace. It’s very simple- the West gives Russia everything it wants and in return Russia promises absolutely nothing. Obviously I won’t phrase it that way though. Instead I’ll enumerate the points on which the West should make concessions to the Russians, hoping you don’t notice that those concessions are all one-way in favor of Russia.
I might take this time to point out how people who oppose this idea and continue to criticize the actions of the Kremlin are “Russophobes” or “hawks.” I’ll claim that their talk of Russian aggression and a Russian “threat” are simply laughable, but if we fail to compromise with Moscow by unilaterally conceding to their every demand, it could lead to World War III and a nuclear holocaust, all of which will still be the West’s fault for not compromising.
And in case my word count is low: Pelmeni, borshch, matryoshka, St. Basil’s Cathedral, Gagarin, kitchen debates, babushki!