Wednesday, June 12, 2013

whis·tle·blow·er; Truth Liberator; Myth Emancipator; Deceit Opponent; Patriot

Last night Eli and I were lying in bed. He was half-asleep and I was reading my book (Frank Abagnale is such an interesting guy!!!!) and Eli blurted out "I HATE the term 'whistle blower.'"
I couldn't agree more.
This phrase indicates beady-eyed informants, an uptight person low on the totem condemning those above him, perhaps even someone greedy for recognition, compensation, or revenge.

It certainly is not flattering.
I remember being in a talk at a job once about a Whistle-blower's hotline and the speaker reassuring us we would not be punished for calling the 1-800 number to report our superiors and that it is all strictly anonymous, blah blah blah.  The guy I was sitting next to in the meeting turned to his co-worker and said "that's what they tell you, but it's certainly different than what happened to Jim."
When I saw those posters in the office, advertising the hotline, I thought who would actually call them? They hang these signs with the phone number over the drinking fountain, as if someone wants to be caught writing it down on a sticky note or typing it into their cell phone...Is it even possible to remain fully anonymous?  Anyone could call in and report any company, pretending they work there. You would have to prove who you are and that your information is valid.
And most of all, you have to trust the person on the other end of the phone.

And considering our phone calls are all monitored by the eye in the sky, it is highly doubtful you'd have time to report Big Brother before your house combusted or some mysterious guys came around to pick you up.
Which is to say, I understand why Snowden did what he did, in lying to everyone and leaving the country.

Some people are calling him a coward for it, or doubting his credibility.
A lot of people are comparing him to Daniel Ellsberg (I wrote about him here) and protesting with "Ellsberg didn't leave! He stood behind his story on American soil instead of turning tail.." They do not respect Snowden because he fled.
But times have changed.
Ellsberg put out the Pentagon Papers in the 1970s, long before the extensive wire-tapping, satellite, and internet access of today.  Ellsberg had his evidence against the government published in multiple national newspapers (back when people read the newspaper) and his story was so prominent that once he had ensured the American people were informed, he turned himself in, and he was too recognized at this point for anyone to "take him out" (you know, kill the messenger, stop the transmission).

But Snowden ran a much higher risk simply because of modern technologies capabilities.
He had less time and higher risk to get the story out while maintaining anonymity. And considering all of the distractions and bullshit priorities of Americans today, it is quite a bit more difficult to turn this leak into a story big enough to get global attention and make citizens sit up and inform themselves.
When we've got Facebook, tweets, and all the other random social media that gives us snippets of the personal lives of others, it is difficult to comprehend the fact that the government is interested in all of this too, though for a more sinister purpose than a little daytime stalking of your friends/crush/co-workers.

A lot of people have trouble reading (and grasping) anything longer than a paragraph update nowadays, let alone an article about a guy revealing just what the government is doing to curtail our personal privacy.

Things working in his favor: 1. the fact that he was interviewed and released a video explaining what he did and why.  2. His age.  3. The fact that he is a "normal guy"-- a high school dropout that happens to be brilliant, has a girlfriend, had a sick pad in Hawaii. He isn't Jason Bourne or James Bond, he has glasses and a goatee and a weird haircut and he probably can't twist someone's neck in one motion so swift and angled that it kills them. Maybe he can't even fire a gun, who knows?
A lot of my generation can sympathize with him.  If he were a single PhD-holder in his mid-fifties, this would not have gotten near as much buzz.
The benefit of his age also makes young people go "could I have done that????" and ponder the personal risks for us and when it is worth it to call out a major government organization for the benefit of your country.

Eli and I agree that we don't much like Assange--he is aloof, kind of grotesque looking, and just comes across as this guy with an "I don't have anything to lose and I want attention" attitude.
He does not have a voice. He is slightly unpleasant. His damning record is not too inspiring to his cause either (no, I don't necessarily believe he raped those women, it could have been a gov't ploy to capture him, but he does have a dating record of being a total creeper).

On the other hand, we have Snowden.  A guy you could have a beer and normal conversation with.
A guy that has sacrificed so much, possible the remainder of his free life, to get the word out to US.

I think if he had tried to do the same thing while on American soil, he would have had a hell of a harder time and perhaps not have succeeded.
And now that his word is out and has been highly circulated, it amounts to a small magnitude of protection for him. If he disappears or dies at this point, everyone will know why and what it means and it will only make his voice louder.
Remember that the military-industrial complex has the capacity to take out a standing president...they did it to Kennedy.

So no, I do not think Snowden is a whistle-blower.
To me, that term is belittling and too limited to fathom just what this man has done.

So can we just call him what he is--A PATRIOT-- and be done with this whistle-blower nonsense?

Also, some 1984 quotes that ring true today, particularly regarding this issue.
Orwell saw it all coming.

"Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past."

"When memory failed and written records were falsified—when that happened, the claim of the Party to have improved the conditions of human life had got to be accepted, because there did not exist, and never again could exist, any standard against which it could be tested."  (it's only a matter of time).

"You think there’s no other way of saving yourself and you’re quite ready to save yourself that way. You want it to happen to the other person. You don’t give a damn what they suffer. All you care about is yourself."  (We have become so removed for each other and it is selfish self-protection is becoming more and more the status quo).

" His heart sank as he thought of the enormous power arrayed against him, the ease with which any Party intellectual would overthrow him in debate, the subtle arguments which he would not be able to understand, much less answer. And yet he was in the right! They were wrong and he was right. The obvious, the silly, and the true had got to be defended. Truisms are true, hold on to that! The solid world exists, its laws do not change. Stones are hard, water is wet, objects unsupported fall towards the earth’s centre."  (When critical thought and self-expression become demonized, we become sheep that those in power can herd as they will).

I think this snipper from Orwell in particular can be directed at Snowden, in countenance of a thank you:

Freedom is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.

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