Monday, June 24, 2013

Edward Snowden and the Patriots

Pretty much every American with a strong opinion on Edward Snowden doubtless self-identifies as a "patriot." Whether you support or condemn him depends on which definition of "patriot" you go by: either "I support Snowden because, as a patriot, I believe in upholding the constitution, its freedom and individual rights and so forth" or "I condemn Snowden because, as a patriot, I believe I should trust and obey the government, and if they're violating parts of the constitution then surely, they must have good reason for it."

Our American politicos have been screeching non-stop about how Snowden betrayed his oath to uphold the constitution and the law, on the grounds that he did something they didn't want him to do. Naturally I take the opposite view: the lawbreakers are the NSA staff who spy on ordinary American citizens, and the elected officials who support such spying. These people violated their oaths to uphold the constitution, but Snowden stayed true to his.

I still cling to the hope that eventually our nation will come back to its collective senses, and future American schoolchildren will learn about Edward Snowden alongside Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, the "suffragettes" who marched to get women the vote, and all others who were condemned as criminals in their time yet exonerated as heroes by history.

But what if he's rated alongside Benedict Arnold instead? Ultimately, Snowden's status in future history books depends upon which view of "upholding the constitution" wins out: does upholding the constitution mean protecting and preserving the individual rights it guarantees, or does it mean you go along with whatever the government does, so long as they say "Trust us, we're doing this for national security?"

2 Comments:

Blogger BerserkRL said...

Pretty much every American with a strong opinion on Edward Snowden doubtless self-identifies as a "patriot."

Not me. Patriotism is a vice.

11:44 AM  
Blogger Anorak said...

Are you for hire? Would like you to contribute to Anorak? I'm on psorene@anorak.co.uk

Best wishes, Paul

1:57 PM  

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