Originally published on Nation of Change, August 3, 2013
I want to take a contrarian position with regard to Juian Assange, Bradley Manning, and Edward Snowden. In short, they are not heroes to me. In doing so, I am well aware that to many it will appear that I have betrayed my Liberal and Progressive leanings. In the spirit of Liberal thought, I want to speak freely even if it annoys many.
At best, I am deeply ambivalent. Of course I support Bradley Manning’s expose of the U.S. government’s reprehensible acts in the massacre of innocent women and children. Who wouldn’t? I am also aghast at the government’s spying on law-abiding citizens. If Bradley Manning, and Edward Snowden had only exposed these things, I would have no problem. My support waned with the indiscriminate release of thousands of documents that potentially put soldiers and other members of our government in harm’s way.
I am also bothered by the fact that Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden both reneged on the oaths they took as a condition of their employment to protect national security. The taking of an oath does not mean that one should never feel free to violate it in the service of a higher ethical calling and principle. But, it does mean that one should attempt to honor our oaths as much as possible. Indeed, isn’t this what we find so lacking in our public officials?
What bothers me most is the general contempt of government by both the Left and the Right. The extreme Right makes no bone about the fact that it literally wants to kill government altogether because it gets in the way of the unfettered desire of the rich to make money, whom they conveniently label “job creators” when they are anything but. On the other hand, the Left is often so paranoid and suspicious of government that it can’t wait to seize on anything that smacks of a “police state.”
Of course, we always need whistleblowers to keep us honest especially when the government commits egregious acts. But we don’t need those who are seeking to delegitimize government altogether.
I deplore government witch-hunts. But I also deplore witch-hunting the government.