He’s been portrayed in the mainstream media as a “narcissist,” a scheming “traitor,” an agent of Russia, a Chinese spy, a clueless high school drop out, an anti-government“extremist,” and I’m quite sure I must’ve missed a few of the more exotic epithets. I’m talking about Edward Snowden, of course, the former CIA employee and NSA contractor whose leaking to the Guardian has exposed a vast global spying apparatussecretly constructed by Washington. The weeks-long Hate aimed at Snowden reached its apogee when prominent “journalists” started going after the reporters who broke the Snowden story, principally Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, inferring that it was Greenwald and the Guardian who put Snowden up to penetrating the NSA. These aren’t just wingnut bloggers we’re dealing with here, but two prominent legacy-media reporters: David “Meet the Press” Gregory and Walter Pincus, of the Washington Post. When Gregory demanded to know why Greenwald shouldn’t be prosecuted alongside Snowden, that was the Establishment baring its teeth.
One should never assume their bark is worse than their bite, but clearly this display of anger is born of sheer frustration. Snowden, after all, has thrown our rulers and their court jesters in the media on the defensive. Not since David bopped Goliath on the noggin has a single individual landed such a decisive blow on a giant, unwieldy bully. Washington is reeling from the impact of the Snowden revelations, not just on the international plane but on the home front as well. In spite of battalions of politicians of both parties dutifully denouncing the NSA leaker as a modern day Benedict Arnold, and weeks of media hysteria over the alleged “damage” he has done to our national security, the American people aren’t buying the Official Narrative: a recent Quinnipiac poll reports:
“American voters say 55 – 34 percent that Edward Snowden is a whistle-blower, rather than a traitor, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today. In a massive shift in attitudes, voters say 45 – 40 percent the government’s anti-terrorism efforts go too far restricting civil liberties, a reversal from a January 14, 2010, survey by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University when voters said 63 – 25 percent that such activities didn’t go far enough to adequately protect the country. Almost every party, gender, income, education, age and income group regards Snowden as a whistle-blower rather than a traitor.”
This poll tracks several interesting trends, the most arresting of which is the utter unanimity with which the American people are rejecting the Official Narrative on Snowden – that Snowden is a traitor who committed espionage and deserves to be punished for his “crime.” Weeks and weeks of relentless smearing, accusing him of collusion with America’s enemies, and worse, have simply had no effect – other than, perhaps, to increase his approval ratings!
As was the case in the former Soviet Union, where people took the truth to be the opposite of whatever appeared in the newspapers, the American people are simply tuning out the “mainstream” media. In the upside down Bizarro World they find themselves living in, Americans have resorted to the only reliable method of determining truth from falsehood: by simply inverting whatever the Establishment media is “reporting.” They’re telling us Snowden’s a “traitor”: ergo, he’s a heroic whistle-blower. A crude but very effective methodology, one that – if applied consistently – can have some pretty interesting implications down the road.
The great shift in voter attitudes toward civil liberties is worth going into specifics: the partisan breakdown is particularly interesting. While 49 percent of Republicans support the NSA’s phone dragnet program, the number rises to 58 percent when we’re talking about Democrats. Opposition is centered in Independents, Republicans, and males. 56 percent of Republicans say the dragnet is too much of an intrusion into privacy, while only 40 percent of Democrats agree.
The evolution of American liberalism from a pro-civil liberties stance to one that effectively disappears the Fourth Amendment because Government Is Our Friend is here charted and measured. Yes, you’re right that they might not be telling the pollsters this if a Republican was in the White House, but I would argue this shift was bound to happen anyway. After all, haven’t “progressives” been telling us for years that conservative-libertarian fears of Big Government are just paranoid alarmism? Aren’t Democrats the “Mommy” party, which sees government as the Great Protector– and doesn’t the demographic breakdown, which shows women much more conducive to the Surveillance State than men, tell us where Democratic strategists are placing their bets? Indeed, one is hard put to come up with a reason for liberals to stand with Snowden in an age when “We’re from the government, and we’re here to help” is the leitmotif and motto of American “progressivism.”