THE BLOG

Russia Is a Proud and Powerful Country

07/08/2013 08:40 am ET | Updated Sep 05, 2013

Tweeting melodiously, Alexei Pushkov, of the foreign affairs committee in Russia's lower house of parliament, lets fly an observation: "He can't live at Sheremetyevo [International Airport]." (Reported by CNN)

Russia is a proud and powerful country, with a longer, richer cultural history than that of the United States. Napoleon marched on Moscow in winter snow. The Czars had crowns as rich as the magnificent Renaissance domes seen in Russian cities. The list of intellectuals and artists to come out of Russia staggers the mind. And it's not only Russia that's rich. The world over is a treasure-box of diversity.

What if we had no distinct cultural heritages? No Shakespeare? No Tolstoy? No Tolkein? No Emily Brontë? No Octavio Paz. No Flaubert and no Wolfgang Mozart. No Homer. No Sophocles. No Ivan the Great, Prince of Moscow? What if France had no Charlemagne? What if there had never been Japanese Samurai? No pyramids, because there were never any Pharaohs in Egypt? No tea leaves to throw overboard and start the American Revolution, because there never existed the Shang Dynasty to introduce tea as a medicinal drink in the year 1500 BC.

What if we never had anybody but Americans? What if all the world ever knew was Abraham Lincoln? What if we never had anything to eat but apple pie? Not every country has to be the United States of America. Diversity is a resource.

Grab a duck by its throat and ram down grain. If the goal is a fat liver--and death--ignore everything else, but everything else is still there. It's just being ignored. The duck still breathes, notices, and feels. Activists still protest. Blood is still on the feathers. The pain is there. Ducks don't thrive under this treatment. Neither do people, but people want pâté.

Latin America perceives the United States as imperialist, elite, hypocritical--wanting to control the world--ramrod style. There is a reason that this perception exists. Washington creates reasons. Highjacking sovereign presidential planes is one instance. Ignoring the Geneva Conventions is another. What has happened to the glorious Red, White, and Blue? Secret courts, gag orders, Google participation--it all sounds so unlike the United States of America, doesn't it?

Judges appointed to the secret FISA court are largely all Republican. Likely after all of this uproar, changes will be instituted to make FISA more fair, with a way to challenge secret rulings and offer some measure of transparency. So that we aren't all just sitting ducks. We can thank Snowden that these concerns are now under scrutiny.

"By tapping telephones and conducting surveillance on the Internet, the U.S. security services have violated the laws of their own country. In this sense Snowden, like Assange, is a rights defender," member of parliament Pushkov tweets. (Steve Gutterman, Reuters)

It could be that young Snowden thinks that the price Americans currently pay for their pleasures is too ugly. Maybe some people think that as long as they can gobble fatty livers (luxury goods), no price is too high. Perhaps some citizens want the Constitution to be what it once was--a definition of America.

All that tea our forefathers dumped in the water outside Boston, starting the Revolution, that tea was a luxury item. And our forefathers chose freedom over luxury items. Freedom was our luxury in those days.

Some of our global brothers and sisters are offering sanctuary to Edward Snowden. Venezuela was the generous first. It's sad. I bet he'd rather be home, in America.