it is amazing what's happening to edward snowden. the outpouring of revulsion is remarkable: it shows you every flavor of the authoritarian personality. also it is bullshit. jeffrey toobin on cnn practically jumps out of his skin with hostility and - like many others - constantly makes reference to snowden's age. i suppose 29 is too young to do the obviously right thing. say rosa parks had been 29; she'd have been a laughingstock. and he goes with 'you just can't do that' as an argument; just a sheer repetition of the authoritarian imperative. here are david brooks's complaints today:
He betrayed honesty and integrity, the foundation of all cooperative activity. He made explicit and implicit oaths to respect the secrecy of the information with which he was entrusted. He betrayed his oaths.
keeping your promises is one dimension of honesty and integrity, but it can be over-ridden by other moral imperatives, including the moral imperative to help other people. understand, that is exactly what snowden took himself to be doing.
He betrayed his friends. Anybody who worked with him will be suspect. Young people in positions like that will no longer be trusted with responsibility for fear that they will turn into another Snowden.
this is assistant principal bullshit. everyone will be punished for your transgression.
He betrayed his employers. Booz Allen and the C.I.A. took a high-school dropout and offered him positions with lavish salaries. He is violating the honor codes of all those who enabled him to rise.
to repeat, honor codes are important. they can be over-ridden by other considerations, and for that matter other honor codes. here the argument is that it's obligatory to violate your own basic values if you're being paid lavishly. that i guess is what david brooks would call a social contract.
He betrayed the cause of open government. Every time there is a leak like this, the powers that be close the circle of trust a little tighter. They limit debate a little more.
this is unbelievably tendentious, fallacious claptrap. on brooks's view, it serves the cause of open government for it to be a secret that everyone is under surveillance at all times. revealing that just causes more secrecy. truly, the logic is depraved.
He betrayed the privacy of us all. If federal security agencies can’t do vast data sweeps, they will inevitably revert to the older, more intrusive eavesdropping methods.
this 'backlash' style of argument has got to go. your resistance to oppression is wrong because we'll double the oppression. the correct answer is then we'll double the resistance. seriously, here's why keeping all your crap secret is a bad idea: it forces us to reveal your ass to the world. don't make us do it. you'll have only yourselves to blame. you're just serving the purposes of julian assange again.
He betrayed the Constitution. The founders did not create the United States so that some solitary 29-year-old could make unilateral decisions about what should be exposed. Snowden self-indulgently short-circuited the democratic structures of accountability, putting his own preferences above everything else.
this is mindless. i don't know what the founders thought about 'solitary 29-year-olds,' but brooks does. i want to say this: edward snowden is not alone. he is not a solitary figure. what he did, he did at tremendous cost to himself and out of an evident commitment to actual public service. he has a worldwide community.
the community brooks appeals to is an imaginary community simulated by secrecy and coercion. every one of these arguments is an argument that everyone should be secretly under surveillance at all times. but the arguments are just this anthology of desperate manipulations, meaningless spasms of the authoritarian mind, real stupidity.
no evil committed by an institution, whether a state or (for god's sake) a defense contractor cannot be justified by arguments like this. you could transpose these arguments directly to any fascist or communist dictatorship in the world; they could be and have been the ideology of every genocide. they are arguments that your conscience does not count, and hence you should do what we say. you don't even deserve to know the basis on which we're making our decisions.
you know, arguing for evil is annoying, but it's really the logic i find discrediting. so, your argument against revealing a massive secret police program to its victims is that the person who did it was a high school dropout. what's sweet about this as an example is that it both implicitly accuses snowden of stupidity on an inadequate basis (have you heard him talk?) and itself enacts stupidity (it's derangedly irrelevant, like a kind of incompetent surrealist poetry).