The abuser in any dysfunctional relationship will always say they are doing it for the good of the person being abused. “This is for your own good…” is language which trips off their tongue. And it never is.
Consider Russian President Vladimir Putin’s justification for his war in the Ukraine. He is there as a “peacekeeper” defending Ukrainians from a “genocide” being committed by their own government. He is doing this to free the Ukrainian people from Ukrainian President Volodymy Zelensky’s government which he has describe as a “gang of drug adducts and neo-Nazis who occupied Kyiv and took the entire Ukrainian people hostage.”
There is no question this is an abusive mentality. Little doubt about Putin’s intent. He is, to put it simply, a bully with the desire to impose his will and his way on anyone he can. After all, this isn’t the first time he has done this and it won’t be the last if he is not stopped right now.
He is being aided in his efforts by disinformation spread through social media. Sure, you would expect the official party line and official soviet news agency to support Putin’s efforts. But to watch right wing news organizations in the United States and elsewhere toeing the line is truly amazing.
Fox News’ Tucker Carlson asking “Why are we against Putin? What has he ever done to me?” is beyond asinine and his statement “Ukraine isn’t a democracy” is just further testimony to his ignorance. Former Trump advisor Steve Bannon has said much the same thing: “Ukraine’s not even a country. It’s kind of a concept… It’s just a corrupt area that the Clintons turned into a colony…”
The propaganda war in social media space is so bad that fact checkers can’t keep up. Fake photos and stories are spreading like wildfire around the globe on both sides of the conflict. Many Canadians and others around the world are connected to relatives and friends in Ukraine. It is only their direct social feed which can be trusted.
We have come to the point where truth is malleable. Journalism has been discredited. And abusers are able to take advantage of this state of disbelief. After all, without objective truth, maybe they are doing it “for your own good.”
Todd Whitcombe is a chemistry professor at UNBC.