Scott Lively has been spending less time lately spreading his vile homophobia and more time defending Vladimir Putin before and after his invasion of Ukraine. He did that again in his May 12 WorldNetDaily column, insisting that Putin get a "fair hearing":
The same corrupt elites who orchestrated both the 2014 anti-Russian coup in Ukraine and the 2020 anti-American coup to remove President Trump are now focused on regime change in Russia itself. The key to their plan is demonizing Vladimir Putin as the new Hitler. Our whole country seems to have been swept up in the smear campaign, but we Americans, especially we conservatives, should not be so quick to surrender our right to informed consent when the potential for a nuclear WWIII is on the line.
I am writing this article in my four capacities as 1) an attorney, 2) a pastor 3) a missionary with extensive relevant experience in Russia and the former Soviet Union, and 4) a serial victim of serious media character assassination.
As an attorney, I am reminding everyone that one of the fundamental bedrock principles of American jurisprudence is a) innocence until proven guilty, b) by a court of competent jurisdiction, c) after a careful review of ALL the relevant evidence, d) as presented, explained and defended by competent legal counsel, and e) in a balanced, rules-based adversarial contest designed to ensure that the truth of the matters at issue will prevail. This is America's gold standard of fairness: the best in all the world since the dawn of civilization, which has set us apart from, for example, third-world dictatorships that convict people without trial in the court of public opinion with no counter-evidence allowed because it's banned as "disinformation."
Lively then tried to make the argument that Russia is more Christian than the U.S. and that Putin was unfairly being Saul Alinsky'd:
As a missionary with extensive relevant experience in Russia and the former Soviet Union, I can testify from firsthand observation that today's Russia is not only NOT a Communist country, but is (point for point) arguably more Christian in its culture and policies than the now Marxist-controlled United States – a fact I am ashamed and distressed as a patriot who loves my country to have to admit. I have never personally met or interacted with President Putin, so my opinion of him is based on publicly available sources, such as his speeches and media interviews. However, I have assessed the mentality and character of the Russian people in hundreds of interactions spanning all levels of their society and believe them to be the closest to American conservatives of all the peoples of the world that I have encountered in my missionary and personal travels through 66 countries. And they – the Russian people – are overwhelmingly pro-Putin. He is to his people the equivalent of Donald Trump, but with a much higher percentage of the population behind him (although every day Biden remains in office, Trump's support rises).
The only possibility of escape from the Saul Alinsky trap is to present counter-evidence to the smear narrative, which is impossible if that evidence is censored as "disinformation" by the government and media moguls. I successfully broke free from the trap by doing something too interesting to the public for my enemies in government and the media to suppress: I ran for governor of Massachusetts and showed my true self to the people during that campaign. But Putin literally has no defender of significance in the U.S. to counteract the character assassination – and so, for all the reasons listed above, I am making this humble effort.
Lively then decided to play dumb, declaring that he can't possibly know if Putin is a war criminal because the government and media are liars and really, when you think about it, none of us compare to Jesus:
To be absolutely clear, I don't know if Vladimir Putin is guilty of any of the specific acts of which he has been accused over the years. I personally don't trust the accusers in the Biden/Obama Defense, State or Intelligence agencies and the media and neither should any American conservatives, because we've all been smeared by the same people for years. That doesn't mean Putin is innocent, but it does mean that we should all recognize our personal investment in ensuring he gets a fair evidence-based hearing and that we shouldn't just join the media-inflamed lynch mob against him. I hope we can all agree that edited and spun TV news reporting is NOT trustworthy evidence. (Can I get an Amen from the pro-lifers, Second Amendment and Trump supporters here?)
It's not just that we have a duty to seek and speak truth, and a huge investment in preserving the principle of "innocent until proven guilty," but we ought to be wondering WHY they're suppressing open discussion on Putin and Russia so aggressively and HOW we might benefit by knowing whatever truths the media may be hiding from us.
I do know that the first rule of character assassination of a public figure is to never allow the public to compare the target with other public figures as a measure of their merit, but only to compare them to a hypothetical perfect alternative. We saw this in the gross mistreatment of President Trump when every one of his flaws, real and imagined, were spotlighted and magnified while similar or comparable flaws in every other politician were simply ignored or whitewashed.
If we're going to try Putin in the court of public opinion, the least we can do is compare him point for point not with the perfect standard of Jesus Christ, but with other current and recent world leaders. How does Putin compare, for example to Joe Biden? Justin Trudeau? Boris Johnson? Emmanuel Macron? George Bush? Bill Clinton? Angela Merkle? Barack Obama? Have any of them killed foreign enemies? Conducted military operations on foreign soil that harmed civilians? Sabotaged political rivals? Consorted with billionaire "oligarchs"? Making fair comparisons is a duty we owe to ourselves, as much as to those being smeared.
But never fear -- despite his decision not to actually examine the evidence, Lively has declared he looked into it enough and is giving Putin his continued stamp of approval:
I've done my due diligence and, on balance, believe Putin is a relatively a good leader of his people – far better than Biden – and certainly not a Hitler. Again, I'm not saying Putin isn't a flawed man. I'm saying the accusations against him should be tested in a fair hearing. None of us should unthinkingly parrot war propaganda from people we have good reason not to trust. We should instead demand that our golden standards of discerning truth are applied to these questions. Wouldn't you demand the same for yourself if you were the target?
The fact that Lively is endorsing Putin even after numerous reports of war crimes tells us that there's good reason not to trust him.