Edward Snowden, the 29-year-old Booz Allen Hamilton employee, demonized by the mainstream media, is beyond all else a hero. Snowden has not uncovered a conspiracy, rather he revealed the workings of an illegal government program akin to what Daniel Ellsberg did with The Pentagon Papers. The question now imposes itself vehemently before the American public, why is Snowden so demonized by politicians and the media?
According to the government and particularly the Obama administration has released classified information that jeopardize our national security. How is this possible? Snowden as reported by Glenn Greenwald who broke the initial Snowden story told reporters that, "Snowden spent months meticulously studying every document." As Snowden planned to release the information he realized what the people needed to say and what would actually jeopardize national security such as U.S. military plans or any secret conversations. The leaks mainly tell us that the government without any court warrants seized phone logs of millions of Americans without authority to do so, and that the NSA tracks user data from large sites.
Not only is this illegal, but it serves no purpose other than to benefit military contractors. Snowden recently stated that, "these programs don't make us more safe. They hurt our economy. They hurt our country. They limit our ability to speak, think, live, and to be creative." Most importantly of all perhaps is that it violates the first amendment, as it violates freedom of speech in a very real way, as we have now all been labeled as guilty until proven innocent. This is against the core of America, a free society where we have a government for the people, not a fascist state where the government has absolute control over the people. So then what can be Snowden's true crime? He uncovered questionable activities that those in power refuse to reveal to the public. Whistleblowers have a right in a free society -- no a responsibility to keep the government in check. Just as the country was founded on opposing powers so must be the citizens.
Perhaps most concerning about all of this is that so much of the American public has bought into the government's pursuit of Snowden. According to a recent Angus Reid Global online poll 51 percent of Americans viewed Snowden akin to a hero, and 49 percent akin to a traitor. Much of the disdain for Snowden is attributed to the fact that he left the United States fearing punishment for his actions. Is he only a hero if he accepts punishment from a highly corrupt government who will do nothing more to punish him and make an example of not opposing the government? George Washington did not return to The King after America was established to face punishment so therefore he must be a traitor, not a hero. As George Orwell once said, "in a time of universal deceit -- telling the truth is a revolutionary act." Have we truly entered such a dystopia?