On the Accusations Against "New American Left"
Leftist Twitter users used spurious, easily misrepresentable evidence to accuse a left-wing organization of being a Ukranian front.
Earlier this year, an organization calling itself the “New American Left” established a presence on Twitter, YouTube, and Patreon — full disclosure in the interest of transparency, I am mutual followers with them on Twitter. Recently, some rather weird accusations popped up pertaining to the fact that the registrar for their domain is the “Center of Ukrainian Internet Names,” which certainly sounds scandalous! But deeper inspection shows it is not what some might assume.
The name, of course, evokes some kind of governmental entity, presumably one that would be maintaining domain names for the Ukrainian government. However, in the circulating screenshots, a domain is included: ukrnames.com. Upon actually visiting this site, you are greeted with a site much like, say, GoDaddy, a popular American domain seller. They even have an English-language site where you can look at prices in dollars (USD) and pay using a regular Visa or Mastercard.
These kinds of sellers are not uncommon, even if not as well-known. Often, when searching for the best deal, one might be drawn to these less popular sellers, some of whom are more transparent about their pricing. Many more well-known domain sellers offer “1-year” pricing, hiding huge hikes in the fine print. Sure, buying from a Ukrainian company is a bit unusual, but I have purchased goods from a number of international companies from the comfort of my home in the United States before.
The rest of the registration information seems associated with Weblium, the tool with which the website is built and hosted. The name on the account is associated with Jetimpex, the company that owns Weblium. It’s possible, even, given that Weblium bundles free domains with their “Pro” package, that it was Weblium and not New American Left who registered with the Center of Ukrainian Internet Names.
Often, this kind of slanderous campaign gains steam because it is easy to show a superficial representation to an audience eager to quickly consume and react — the kind you find on a site like Twitter — that will garner outrage. Of course, there is plenty of outrage generated on social media that is absolutely justified, and it has helped drive a lot of social change. But when people are eager to keep scrolling, there is often little drive to dig deeper.
This kind of narrative is especially juicy on a place like Left Twitter, where, among certain large segments, the very real meddling and propaganda perpetrated by the Russian government is usually denied — often labeled McCarthyism! And Ukraine is seen as the focus of their efforts in the reverse, all as Putin annexes Ukrainian territory without much international pushback. This is not to say Ukraine should be above criticism or deeper examination, but it is a popular scapegoat for a certain sort of leftist, eager to justify their love of Russian propaganda, whether straight from the source like RT or indirectly through outlets that parrot their line like Grayzone.
All in all, this badjacketing attempt against New American Left seems like nothing but hot air — but, unfortunately, much of the damage is done and irreversible. I have experienced that with a similar crowd when it came to be being an underpaid Tech Lead at a failing tech startup, which was, of course, framed as me being a rich capitalist. Even though I didn’t own the company. This kind of behavior causes real harm, and is just Left Twitter’s version of “We did it, Reddit!”