A traitor by any other name

By The Beacon | November 14, 2013 2:25am

By Philippe Boutros |

Mr. Kimball’s recent opinion piece is astounding not only in its lack of timeliness - did he only just hear about Edward Snowden? - but also in its conclusions. He seems to believe that, somehow, an American citizen trusted with confidential information is some kind of hero for revealing state secrets to a foreign newspaper.

Edward Snowden, who claims to be a defender of privacy and the unbridled Internet, initially sought refuge in China, which we all know is a bastion of those ideals. Perhaps that realization didn’t occur to him because he couldn't Google “Tiananmen Square” - not only because the People's Republic doesn't block that query (it does) but also because Google ceased operations in China due to state censorship . After meeting with enough of The Guardian's staff (who, according to a recent New York Times opinions piece, are strongly disliked in the British media), he relocated to another one of our founding fathers' favorites: Russia, another liberal paradise. His stance for “freedom” from Russia looks just as valid in comparison to homegrown civil rights movements as the Voices for Life OpEd looks next to Danielle Knott's piece in last week’s issue of The Beacon.

Snark aside, I simply don't understand how anyone is surprised by the fact that we spy on ourselves and on other people. Oh, we spy on foreign heads of state, including our allies? I'm sure nobody has ever done that before. If only government could be more like corporations like Facebook, Google and Tindr, which (“whom”, insists Mitt Romney) we willingly, easily, entirely trust with the most intimate details (cough Snapchat cough) of our lives. I feel much more comfortable entrusting my personal information to people trying to make money off of me, instead of people who a) are trying to protect me, and b) aren't trying to sell me anything.

If you are outraged at the government acting outside of its purview - which you should always be - then do something about it. Where was your outrage when we renewed the Patriot Act for the n-th time? Support real advocates of privacy like your representative in Congress, Earl Blumenauer, instead of lending credibility to someone who is undeniably a traitor – didn’t we just go through this with Bradley Manning?

Here's the final piece of the puzzle: in fleeing the country to China, Snowden left a girlfriend behind in Hawaii. Maybe this whole debacle isn't really about civil liberties but is actually just an elaborate way from him to avoid breaking up with her in person. To paraphrase Mr. Kimball, “Edward Snowden has revealed to the world the comprehensive online spying our government currently performs, in the hopes of halting the NSA from becoming the Big Brother for the entire world avoiding an awkward conversation”. Couldn’t he just do it over Facebook?

Philippe Boutros is a senior philosophy major. He can be reached at boutros14@up.edu.