If you have spent literally any time arguing against western imperialism in any public forum, you have had the experience of being accused of “supporting” one of said imperialism’s targets. If you argue against regime change interventionism in Syria, you’ll get accused of being an “Assadist” or “Assad apologist”. If you argue against regime change interventionism in Iran, you’ll you’ll get people saying that you “support the Mullahs”. Enter into any debate of sufficient liveliness and it’s only a matter of minutes before it happens.
There was a meme going around at the height of the most recent failed coup attempt in Venezuela depicting a white, pink-haired socialist placing their hand over the mouth of a dark-skinned Venezuelan and saying “ACKSHUALLY, MADURO IS THE GOOD GUY”. Proponents of the Trump administration’s attempts to topple the Venezuelan government would share this meme in online debates with anti-imperialists as a way of accusing them of whitesplaining to Venezuelans that they should support an evil dictator who is oppressing them. The idea being, of course, to silence those dastardly socialists using the socially progressive value system they claim to uphold. Checkmate, leftists.
There are obviously a number of things that are wrong with this meme, including the skin pigmentation of the average Guaido supporter, the implication that all Venezuelans oppose Maduro, and the suggestion that only white western leftists oppose the Trump administration’s attempts to install a puppet regime in the nation with the largest proven oil reserves on the planet. But the dumbest thing about it is the implication that someone who opposes US regime change interventionism could only be doing so because they believe that Nicolás Maduro is a “good guy”.
The reason debates about western imperialism so frequently get bogged down by moronic arguments about “good guys” and “bad guys” is because human storytelling devices train us from an early age to constantly frame narratives in those terms. Everything we’ve been taught by TV and movies tells us that if a conflict is happening, someone in it must be the protagonist and someone must be the antagonist, and that our job is to figure out which one’s which.
For as long as humans have been telling stories, this is how they’ve been doing it.