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Brendan O'Neill

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The Left’s Great Russian Conspiracy Theory


The chattering classes have officially lost it. On both sides of the Atlantic. Of course they’d been teetering on the cliff edge of sanity for a while, following the bruising of their beloved EU by 17m angry Brits and Hillary’s loss to that orange muppet they thought no one except rednecks would vote for. But now they’ve gone over. They’re falling fast. They’re speeding away from the world of logic into a cesspit of conspiracy and fear. It’s tragic. Or hilarious. One or the other.

Exhibit A: this week’s New Yorker. It’s mad. It captures wonderfully how the liberal-left has come to be polluted by the paranoid style of McCarthyist thinking since Trump’s victory. It’s a New Yorker for a future, dystopian America that’s been captured by the Evil Empire. The mag’s masthead is in Cyrillic and its famous dandy mascot — Eustace Tilley — has morphed into Putin. It’s now "Eustace Vladimirovich Tilley." Inside the mag it’s even more feverish. A 13,000-word report, "Trump, Putin and the New Cold War," is accompanied by a drawing of a deep-red, UFO-style Kremlin hovering over the White House and firing lasers into it. It’s CGI Hollywood meets House Un-American Activities in an orgy of liberal dread over Ruskies ruining the nation.

It used to be right-wingers who fretted over Russians and Reds and pinkos colonising Westerners’ lives and minds. Now it’s lefties. Trump is regularly called "Putin’s puppet." He’s an "unwitting agent" of Moscow, we’re told. The New York Times even called him "The Siberian Candidate," echoing the title of the 1962 thriller The Manchurian Candidate, in which an American is brainwashed by Korean Communists to become an assassin. That’s how some seriously view Trump: a Putin-moulded foot soldier of Russian interests who’ll assassinate the American way of life, if not American citizens. I mean, Vanity Fair actually asks: "Is Trump a Manchurian Candidate?" These people need a lie down.
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