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Kamala Harris' Kaepernick Comments Is Latest Example of Blaming Real American Problems on Russia

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Republished from The American Herald Tribune

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Democratic presidential hopeful Kamala Harris claimed that the furor surrounding San Francisco 49ers star Colin Kaepernick's protest was artificially generated by Russia. "Remember bend the knee and Colin Kaepernick?" she said on influential New York-based radio show The Breakfast Club, "it actually was not a thing. The Russian bots started taking that over."

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"They test out a couple of things to see what can get the American public going at each other, pointing fingers at each other," the California senator said. "Guess what gains the most heat? Race." Harris did not mention whether she believed Russians were responsible for ensuring Kaepernick did not get another job in the NFL again.

Her comments surprised many, as however many Russian Twitter bots may have retweeted the story, their influence surely pales in comparison to that of the mainstream media or the President himself in stoking the fire of the controversy. There are 278 articles on CNN when searching for "Kaepernick protest" since 2016, 364 in the New York Times and nearly 800 on Fox News. Meanwhile, at an Alabama rally, President Trump called for his dismissal. "Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a b*tch off the field right now, out, he's fired. He's fired!'" Mr Trump said. "You know, some owner is going to do that. He's going to say, 'That guy that disrespects our flag, he's fired.' And that owner, they don't know it [but] they'll be the most popular person in this country." Thus, that certain Russian bots added their weight to the outrage may technically be correct, it is a matter of emphasis.

A Long History of Connecting Black Activism with Russia

Since Trump's election there has been a storm of articles in mainstream media, from the likes of CNN, The Daily Beast and Wired, insinuating Russia was behind the rise of Black Lives Matter and a host of other online black activist groups. Progressive media like the Black Agenda Report has come under mounting censorship as the site has been linked to Russia. Individuals have also been under suspicion. Progressive Georgia-based activist Anoa Changa was smeared as a potential Russian hack by the mainstream press for appearing on a Sputnik radio show.

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This is hardly a new phenomenon, however. The civil rights movement was constantly slandered as being in the pockets of the Soviet Union. In 1965, for instance, Martin Luther King was challenged on NBC's Meet the Press about supposed Communist infiltration of the movement. Going further back, the FBI opened a file on Malcolm X in 1950, claiming he was a Red. It is starting to seem like anyone challenging the status quo will be written off as a foreign agent. It is in this context we should read Harris' comments; that any political or racial tension in the country is unnatural and must be generated by outsiders.

Even mainstream movements like Bernie Sanders' have been tarred as Putin-backed. The Washington Post, for instance, asked, "When Russia interferes with the 2020 election on behalf of Democratic nominee Bernie Sanders, how will liberals respond?"

Tweets about Tweets

Another example of figures claiming Russia is behind domestic strife occurred during the information wars about vaccines. In 2018 a scientific paper claiming Russian bots amplified fake news and debate about vaccines online caused a storm of media interest. Buried very deep in the paper, however, was that the researchers only found 25 tweets on vaccination from what they questionably describe as "known Russian trolls" hardly a propaganda blitz. However, the paper generated enormous media interest; ten times as many news outlets reported on the tweets than there were tweets themselves! Furthermore, the Twitter outrage about Russian bots dwarfed the bots themselves, with over 11,000 people linking to the scientific paper alone.

The Value of Blaming Russia

For mainstream, corporate Democrats like Harris, Russia is a useful excuse as to why they lost to the most unpopular presidential candidate in history. If it was largely Putin's fault, there is no need for self-reflection, to address campaign flaws, and certainly not to cede ground to a left-wing insurgency speared by Bernie Sanders. Instead they can present a rosy picture of America free from strife and not have to tackle so many of the problems they helped create. As Hillary Clinton said, "America is already great".

The truth is that there are deep racial and class divisions in the US, which is precisely what Kaepernick was attempting to address with his protest. "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," the ex-San Francisco quarterback said. "To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."

For Harris, a former prosecutor who has spent her career enforcing a racist and unjust criminal code, locking up great numbers of people of color, this worldview is unpalatable, hence the need to brush aside questions of racial justice and deep rooted racism as a manufactured crisis. If people started "pointing fingers" on racial injustice, she would be one of the first in line.

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Alan MacLeod  is a member of the Glasgow University Media Group. His latest book is, "Bad News From Venezuela: 20 Years of Fake News and Misreporting." Follow him on Twitter: @AlanRMacLeod

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Old Codger

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Whilst I am certainly not a supporter or fan of Harris, to call her a racist for having done her job, which she was elected to do, is a bit over the top. Technically, she had no choice in the matter. In recent history, we have a States Attorney in Florida, who was elected to prosecute criminals. She refused to prosecute any one who was eiligible for the death penalty. Long story short, an alternative States Attorney was named to prosecute those cases. The rationale behind that is an elected official doesn't have the latitude to not follow all applicable laws. If an elected official doesn't like or agree with a law, they can try to get the law changed through the legislature or try to get the law declared unconstitutional. They cannot just arbitrally not do what they were elected to do. It doesn't sound like Harris had any choice in the matter. She was elected to perform her duties despite what the electorate thought of the laws being enforced. To call her a racist, or even imply that she is, is grossly unfair at best.

Submitted on Friday, Jul 26, 2019 at 3:20:34 PM

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David William Pear

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Reply to Old Codger:   New Content

She seemed to like her job locking black people up a little too much. Not so much white collar crime, it was "too much paperwork". The prosecutor has the most power in the criminal justice system. Too much, and not always in the public interest, or even according to the law.

Submitted on Friday, Jul 26, 2019 at 5:04:27 PM

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Reply to David William Pear:   New Content

And this is the world of politics. It is called catering/pandering to the electorate, the people who gave you the job. I doubt if a politician actually states his or her real feelings/sentiments 30 per cent of the time. The old adage that a politician will say anything to get or stay elected rings true more often than people realize.

Submitted on Friday, Jul 26, 2019 at 6:42:38 PM

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Reply to Old Codger:   New Content

"Following the law" --- or ---"pandering to the public". Which is it? I think it is more like pandering to the 1%. Prosecuting blacks is ok to Harris but prosecuting bankers is not. And she thinks it is hilarious; or should I say Hillaryous.

Submitted on Friday, Jul 26, 2019 at 8:56:03 PM

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Reply to David William Pear:   New Content

It is dangerous to try to second guess a prosecutor.

Submitted on Friday, Jul 26, 2019 at 9:57:15 PM

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It is dangerous to try to second guess a prosecutor.

Submitted on Friday, Jul 26, 2019 at 9:57:21 PM

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It is dangerous to try to second guess a prosecutor.

Submitted on Friday, Jul 26, 2019 at 9:57:26 PM

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I heard you the first time!

Submitted on Saturday, Jul 27, 2019 at 1:30:32 AM

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Reply to Old Codger:   New Content

"Just following orders..." hmmm. Where have we heard that before?

Submitted on Friday, Jul 26, 2019 at 7:33:14 PM

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