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John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE INDEPENDENT

 

“Russia could handover Edward Snowden to US to ‘curry favour’ with Donald Trump, report suggests”

I’ve never regarded Snowden as a terribly sympathetic figure or as a public hero.

To my mind, he is in a different class than Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange – both genuinely heroic figures.

Snowden did one good, brave thing, but, with a great deal of what he has said since, he has become rather tiresome.

Early on, despite an effort to not speak too much, he gave me the impression of a very homesick, privileged American upper-middle class young man.

And that impression has only been re-confirmed, time and time again. In today’s world, that’s not a sympathetic image.

America’s privileged class has caused immense suffering in our world, and it remains focused only on its own comforts and attitudes, including the comforts of its rights and freedoms. Rights and freedoms with Guantanamo just 90 miles offshore?

Even the version of freedom and rights people like Snowden appear to embrace seem greatly irrelevant to much of the world and even for many ordinary Americans.

He has never really shown any opposition to the greatest mass killer of our time, Barack Obama. I lose all sympathy with anyone who accepts hundreds of thousands of deaths in half a dozen countries.

He is a cool technocrat who did what he did – reveal the NSA’s hi-tech and pervasive spying – out of a kind of cool, standoffish, libertarian attitude, one I don’t find overly sympathetic.

Chelsea Manning saw a video of ruthless American helicopter pilots joyously machine-gunning an unarmed man desperately trying to avoid them. That was what motivated her heroic effort. It would have motivated me, too, absolutely.

Nothing like that motivated Snowden. Nor has there ever been a hint of opposition to America’s relentless and brutal imperial march across the globe, complete with mass killing, torture, and destroying countless homes.

No, we have just a cool technical concern for American Rights, much as you might expect from another cold historical figure, Thomas Jefferson, another privileged upper-class man, one who was the utterly unrepentant lifetime holder of over two hundred slaves who also went on at length over “rights and freedoms,” at least as they applied to himself and his class.

Jefferson’s ideas of rights and freedoms, despite his facile phrases written almost as public relations slogans for history, always were effectively limited to his own class. When Haitian slaves rose in bloody revolt against Napoleon’s France, President Jefferson gladly supported and helped Napoleon over the people seeking freedom from servitude and abuse.

I cannot even recall Snowden’s offering any substantial expressions of gratitude to Russia for all it has done for him. He can never stand out in my mind as a generous or very sympathetic figure.

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