Life is shades of gray. Black and white, right and wrong seems to increasingly be in the eye of the beholder. Edward Snowden to say the least is a controversial figure. A hero to some, a traitor to others? Did he break numerous laws? Yes. Did he do the American public a great service? Yes.
Privacy is a unique topic of discussion. It is a special issue in that the vast majority of people regardless of political affiliation, gender, race, or religion believe we as humans are entitled to our privacy. From the strictest catholic straight white man to the most flamboyant, liberal, multi racial, transgender. If we didn’t value privacy, there would be no suburbs, there would be no houses, there would be no doors.
The first world may have given up its privacy unknowingly/ignorantly as it embraced smartphones and free internet services over the past decade. When Edward Snowden helped reveal to America and the world the scale of privacy invasion being purposefully deployed by the US government on its citizens, the outrage was split evenly.
One part anger at the government for abuse of power, one part at Snowden for breaking the law and potentially endangering military operation(s), and one part anger at ourselves for being willfully blind to what we as a society didn’t want to think about or acknowledge…that there is no such thing as a free lunch. The free services that seemed too good to be true, were. We have been paying for Facebook, Google, Spotify and the like with our personal data and privacy.
It is human nature to direct and reflect self-hatred outward. That is what Edward Snowden‘s critics are doing. They are angry that he let the world know that which we wish we didn’t. That we are being watched.
That is what he blew the whistle about. That is why he is in exile in Russia. That is why the newspapers that he leaked his information to are swimming in Pulitzer Prizes. Because he removed all shadow of doubt that the government is indeed watching us. They’re watching us, listening to us, tracking us, and there is nothing we can do to stop them. Just typing that out makes me angry. Reading it probably makes you angry or apathetic, both are natural.
It’s natural to point the finger and blame a person. It’s natural to label one person as an enemy.
Snowden is not the enemy. Trying to profit from the information would have made him the enemy. Staying silent, blind, deaf, and dumb would have made him the enemy. But rather than stay comfortable, he took the road less traveled by. He faced the fear of being classified an enemy of the US government. But whistleblowers are not the enemy of the people. They are some of our greatest allies. Snowden is an ally of freedom, an ally of privacy, an ally of innate human rights. Snowden shouldn’t need a pardon but whistleblower protections have failed him. He did the right thing for the public, let’s do the right thing for him, and push for a pardon so he can come home.