Make America Smart Again — let’s not be gullible
“Thank heaven for those gullible Americans. Let’s hope they never wise up. If they do, we’re out of jobs.”
One wonders whether that thought crosses the minds of Russian disinformation specialists who have had so much success sowing dissention in the United States. If not, it should.
We Americans seem to be determined to allow internet liars from Moscow and other U.S. foes to manipulate us. A website linked to the Kremlin recently put out a false report that five Ukrainians died after taking a COVID-19 vaccine made in the United States.
Media outlets in Russia picked up on the report. So did thousands of U.S. Facebook users, who began spreading the word as if it was gospel.
U.S. efforts to develop a safe, effective vaccine against the coronavirus have provided the disinformation crew in Russia and elsewhere with a prime target. The more distrust they can incite, the fewer Americans will trust any vaccine.
That will kill people. The internet villains know that. It also will drive an even deeper wedge between many Americans and our government, regardless of whether it is controlled by Democrats or Republicans. That is the long-range goal of the propaganda campaign.
It succeeds in part because the Russians and others are willing to spend big money on it. Distribute a few hundred false reports and if even one or two make it to the Facebook big time, they have scored a success.
And for all their talk about banning comments by politicians that are not true, the social media giants have not done a good job of heading off disinformation campaigns. To their credit, it does appear they have tried, however.
The foundation of disinformation campaigns’ success is the gullibility of a certain segment of the American population. They, in turn, disseminate false reports, which take on lives of their own simply because so many people forward and re-post the garbage.
So yes, even as we insist we are a more cynical society, we fail to be critical of claims that, on their face, should be dismissed. We can be our own worst enemies.
Perhaps we need to adopt a new social/political slogan, applicable to Democrats, Republicans and independents alike: Make America smart again.