Stephen Walt With the Best Statement of the Day
“And when they hang you Mr. Adams, do try and put in a good word for the rest of us”
– Edward Rutledge to John Adams, from the film 1776
As I was trolling around my usual news-roll today, I ran across this excellent statement from Stephen Walt in Foreign Policy on Edward Snowden:
Snowden may have broken the law, but so did the Founding Fathers when they issued that famous declaration 237 years ago. They did so in defiance of a powerful empire, just as Snowden did. The world is better off that they chose to defy the laws of their time, and Snowden’s idealistic act may leave us better off too. I suspect Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and the rest of those revolutionaries might have understood.
This strikes right at the heart of everything that’s at stake with Snowden’s NSA disclosures. For those who like to engage in facile talk of “execution” and imprisonment for people like Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald, and Thomas Drake- keep in mind much of the same talk was peddled around about the American revolutionaries. For intellectual non-entities like Donald Trump to declare that “when we were a real country” we used to execute “traitors” like Snowden, is a declaration that flies right in the face of our founding principles and a wish to turn the United States into a broken, authoritarian banana republic.
If that’s what you want, if you despise the values of an open society, fine- I’m glad you let us know. If you think that we’d be better off in a fearful, draconian, surveillance state, please feel free to say so. But don’t go flying the flag and cheering our fireworks if that’s how you feel.