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(14,677 posts)
Mon Sep 19, 2022, 11:00 AM Sep 2022

The Divide and Conquer strategy is alive and well - beware!

Russian trolls went into overtime to divide women in 2017 after their successful marches. There is a NY Times link in this post, but you might hit a paywall.

Here are a couple of paragraphs as an excerpt:

Linda Sarsour awoke on Jan. 23, 2017, logged onto the internet, and felt sick. The weekend before, she had stood in Washington at the head of the Women’s March, a mobilization against President Donald J. Trump that surpassed all expectations. Crowds had begun forming before dawn, and by the time she climbed up onto the stage, they extended farther than the eye could see.

But then something shifted, seemingly overnight. What she saw on Twitter that Monday was a torrent of focused grievance that targeted her. In 15 years as an activist, largely advocating for the rights of Muslims, she had faced pushback, but this was of a different magnitude. A question began to form in her mind: Do they really hate me that much?

That morning, there were things going on that Ms. Sarsour could not imagine. More than 4,000 miles away, organizations linked to the Russian government had assigned teams to the Women’s March. At desks in bland offices in St. Petersburg, using models derived from advertising and public relations, copywriters were testing out social media messages critical of the Women’s March movement, adopting the personas of fictional Americans.

Think about that for a minute, because you can BET right-wing trolls are working out how we might be divided around abortion rights. Around LGBTQ rights. Around birth control.

The Republicans are trying to drive the conversation to inflation. Don't let them.

Russia has warred against us on social media since 2016. Ditto N. Korea, China and others. Don't fall for it.

Here is the Times link: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/18/us/womens-march-russia-trump.html?campaign_id=2&emc=edit_th_20220919&instance_id=72327&nl=todaysheadlines&regi_id=95472539&segment_id=107470&user_id=122c14754c0ebb2d655cb1433556f337

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The Divide and Conquer strategy is alive and well - beware! (Original Post) PatrickforB Sep 2022 OP
Linda Sarsour is not someone anyone should defend. DURHAM D Sep 2022 #1
If I were running a Russian troll farm.... TheRealNorth Sep 2022 #2
Yep Effete Snob Sep 2022 #4
I understand that. However, the fact remains that Russian trolls are PatrickforB Sep 2022 #5
Here's a "gifted" link to the article - no paywall teach1st Sep 2022 #3
I understand where the article is coming from slightlv Sep 2022 #6
You are definitely preaching to the choir with me, that is for sure. PatrickforB Sep 2022 #7


(32,654 posts)
1. Linda Sarsour is not someone anyone should defend.
Mon Sep 19, 2022, 11:26 AM
Sep 2022

Her mission was to destroy Hillary.

Some believe Linda is a Russian asset. Think Tulsi.


(9,607 posts)
2. If I were running a Russian troll farm....
Mon Sep 19, 2022, 11:33 AM
Sep 2022

I would have operatives trying to stir the shit pot from both sides.


Effete Snob

(8,387 posts)
4. Yep
Mon Sep 19, 2022, 11:55 AM
Sep 2022

People have this bizarre assumption that "Russian Troll" = "Doesn't Agree With Me", and don't quite grasp that trolls work both sides.

Someone trying to gain your trust and influence you does not come from a position of disagreeing with you.


(14,677 posts)
5. I understand that. However, the fact remains that Russian trolls are
Mon Sep 19, 2022, 04:22 PM
Sep 2022

stirring up 'both sides of the "shit-pot"' on these things. Yeah, I get that too.

My point is NOT about the merits of Sarsour vis-a-vis Clinton. The fact that Sarsour is the person highlighted in the edictorial is irrelevant to the main point. The main point is that Russian trolls worked to change public opinion by pounding a wedge into what should have been a unified group. The resultant chaos hurt the strength of the movement at that time.

That is the point, not whether Sarsour is 'someone not worth defending,' because whether she is or not is irrelevant to the fact that Russian trolls are working to cause chaos among us by manipulating opinion, yes, on 'both sides of the "shit-pot"' (see post immediately below) to generate conflict and confusion. This is what these Russian, Chinese, N. Korean and other trolls DO. Cause chaos. Here. To undermine our republic.

Now, with all respect, and not wishing to cause any offense whatever, we must all be careful that we do not advance arguments that attempt (whether intentionally or unintentionally) to shift the debate from its main point to an unrelated point. This particular logical fallacy is known as a 'straw man,' and it is very common in public discourse in the United states.

The current example:
1. A NYT editorial uses a Wall-Street lead to illustrate how Russian trolls work to sow confusion and chaos in public opinion.
2. Sarsour is the person named in the Wall-Street lead - note that such a lead is very common because it is believed to add a human interest element to any given story.
3. A counter argument is brought that Sarsour is not someone anyone should be defending. Though I don't think you did it for this purpose, when this is done intentionally in debate it is called a 'straw man.'
5. The desired outcome of using a straw man argument in a debate is to minimize the main point being made by generating new argument about the straw man rather than the main point. This deflects public opinion and decreases pressure for reform.

To illustrate how damaging straw man arguments are, here's a related example:
1. George Floyd was murdered.
2. He did not have to die the day he did die, because the cop did not have to cuff him, lay him on his stomach and put his knee on Floyd's back so that he couldn't breath, resulting in asphyxiation and death. There was no public danger from the guy that merited murdering him.
3. Counter arguments were brought up about Floyd's drug use (fentanyl), and about his criminal record, seeking to redirect debate to Floyd's character rather than the fact he was murdered.
4. Thankfully, a jury saw through these straw man arguments and convicted the perpetrator, who quite rightly received a long prison sentence.

This is why we must be careful with each other about the arguments we raise here on DU. Again, please do not take offense at this. I am not trying to criticize or patronize you in any way. I am merely trying to educate around the straw man technique commonly used in public debate in this country. This technique can be quite hurtful, because it deflects the already too-short American attention span away from the main point, and generates lots of noise around unrelated issues.


(3,374 posts)
6. I understand where the article is coming from
Mon Sep 19, 2022, 09:21 PM
Sep 2022

and it's a well worn technique. Worked extremely well in elections past. I don't think it'll do as well going forward... at least, not this midterm. Probably not in 2024, either.

There is no coming together between R's and D's. We're about as far apart as we've ever been since the Civil War. The Russians did their job well, with Trump as their Asset there. I think there'd be more ways to cut that pie than there'd be to divide us Democrats at this point. Or do we have an overwhelming number of centrists who are more concerned about inflation and economy than civil and voting rights, about immigrant and women's rights? Do I have an over-idealistic view of the Democratic party? I just don't see us being cleaved in pieces due to differences between the material vs. the immaterial issues.

I see us coming together en masse, voting to regain women's right to their own bodily autonomy. To give dignity back to immigrant refugees. To raise up voting rights for everybody, such that no one can take that right away from any American, no matter who s/he may be. I see us voting for statehood for D.C. and Puerto Rico, should they want it. And any other "protectorate." We've lost so many millions of people to Covid, we need new people for their labor, but also for their creativity, their culture to enrich ours. How would they bots use this to divide us? We welcome this! This is what we live for! Or, I ask once again... do I, at 66, still have an idealized vision of the Democratic party?


(14,677 posts)
7. You are definitely preaching to the choir with me, that is for sure.
Mon Sep 19, 2022, 10:37 PM
Sep 2022

I think your view of the Democratic party is fine, and if it is idealized, so what? We SHOULD be operating according to our ideals.

As to your prognostication, yes, I would absolutely like to think, to believe, that women will rise up en masse to regain reproductive rights, and definitely we should all be working toward economic, social and environmental justice.

Be mindful though that the Dems represent thirty percent of registered voters, while Republicans have fallen to twenty-four percent. Independent voters, though - they substantially outnumber either party at forty-three percent of registered voters. And, of course you know the litany of events that brought us to where we are - Powell's 1971 manifesto to the US Chamber of Commerce that laid out the entire right wing propaganda apparatus, Reagan killing the Fairness Doctrine in 1987 with the subsequent cancerous growth of right wing talk radio and Fox 'news.'

I won't belabor all that, but I will say that many voters in our party don't show up (though like you, I think they will this time around), and many of the Indy voters don't even think about the election until the week of, and many cannot even tell you what the three branches of government even are.

I was just reading an editorial in the Guardian, though, that marveled at the numbers of women registering to vote. Look at what happened in Kansas! This Dobbs decision is like a giant millstone hanging around every GOP neck, and Lindsey Graham has certainly not helped. Republicans talking about cuts to Social Security and Medicare is damaging to them as well, because people in our age group VOTE and are usually fairly well informed about issues that affect them. Republican numbers have gone down among the 60+ population. Finally, Trump 'being Trump' with his whole nazi thing is really hurting the GOP. Sure the crazies will win in some places but we have an improving chance at keeping the House and look like we will do well in the Senate.

But the Russian 'bots - now that is a whole different thing. To my mind, their 'cozy bear' hacks in 2016 were an act of war, and certainly their continued efforts to divide us and undermine our republic are still alive and well. Hopefully fewer people will fall for it, but again, these trolls are clever. Many times the same troll will play both sides using two different online identities established across a number of social networks. They are quite sophisticated, and they do concern me, as they should concern us all.

I'm not sure of the solution to the troll problem - because we cannot curtail free speech on social media. But it is something we should continue to be aware of.

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