EDITORIAL: Smarten up, North Carolina

859264 01.08.1969 Страница газеты "Правда" от 29 мая 1919 года. РИА Новости/РИА Новости

The North Carolina reputation for gullibility, half-cocked action and sheer rubism has reached across the Atlantic Ocean.

In Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller’s indictment issued last week — the one that stained 13 Russian nationals and three companies with the mark of conspirators, if not the White House inner circle — North Carolina was called out as a target for paid conspirators in hopes of swaying the election towards Donald Trump in this crucial swing state.

The purpose of propaganda is not necessarily to get the hooples to believe a certain thing, but to make them unsure of what is actually true, allowing them to cling to whatever “facts” they can find that fill the narratives in which they want to believe. Projection. Gaslighting. Call it what you will. But this is established fact:

In August 2016, a Russian Twitter bot claiming to represent Republicans in Tennessee, reported that voter-fraud investigations had begun in North Carolina. This was a false report, but it was retweeted enough by the site’s 100,000-plus followers to spread virally. Not cited in the indictment is that Pat McCrory used these claims as justification not to concede his own election, which he lost to Roy Cooper that night.

Russian operatives helped organize a “Charlotte Against Trump” rally that attracted more than 100 people in November 2016.

In the end, we did exactly what the Russians wanted us to. Like a bunch of hayseeds, we fell for it.

Not in the indictment but reported by BuzzFeed, the Russian Internet Research Agency hired activists to speak in Charlotte in the days following the police-shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott in that city in September 2016, when the streets were filled with demonstrators.

This doesn’t even take into account the savage sharing campaigns, filled with factual inaccuracies and perpetrated by morons, to which we were all subject on our social-media feeds around election time. But when the bots are American, we don’t call it an act of war.

North Carolina voters fell for it: Trump took the state by 3.7 percentage points, truth be damned.

In the end, we did exactly what the Russians — and the Republicans — wanted us to. Like a bunch of hayseeds, we fell for it.

And some of us are falling still.