"When The People lead, the leaders will follow" said Norman Solomon as he wrapped up an op-ed on the Edward Snowden NSA/CIA whistle-blowing controversy this week (Solomon, 2013). Perhaps it's a bit optimistic to think America is at a tipping point in the state of its national awareness, or perhaps its cynical to believe it's not. Regardless, whether or not Americans are more aware or accept the truth of what is being exposed about NSA/CIA domestic and international spying, the question remains what will the American people do about it?
All over the world for the past two plus years, we've seen peoples movements against neo-liberalist and authoritarian power structures taking shape and producing results. Those in the Middle East, in Asia, in Latin America, and in Europe are realizing the power of unity in standing firm against established orders. The idea of peoples control (whether or not one calls it democracy) is - to this author - what freedom truly means. For what good are Constitutional freedoms if governments shut them down the minute they aren't favorable to power structures? And in that sense how is America any different than those who we point the finger at through our exceptionalist national mindset? Does not the reactions of our leaders have a lot to say about what our government is doing in our name?
Dick Cheney has called NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden a "spy for China" (Williams, 2013). House Speaker John Boehner called him a "traitor" (Solomon, 2013). Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein said his actions amounted to "treason" (Solomon, 2013). The Western mainstream media is more concerned about his personal life, his girlfriend and his desire for fame than it is about the truth of what he has to say. This same pattern has been seen in the past with Julian Assange and Bradley Manning. Character assassination is an effective Orwellian tactic to distract us from critical thinking and asking the right questions.
The fact is this: Edward Snowden has exposed domestic and international spying through cell phone records, internet monitoring and other means by the United States government. We all know that the technology exists to do so. This is not just international spying - which is bad enough - this is domestic as well. This means all of us. Now, whether we chose to believe that, and use our critical thinking abilities to analyze what that means in relation to our Constitution is up to us. Further, it is not enough simply to think about it. If we believe that our government is spying on us, will we wait for all of our freedoms to erode or will we take a stand like others are already doing around the world?
The neo-liberalism of the United States government and the military power we possess is critical to consider in all this. For we, the citizens of the United States, are the only ones who can hold our government to account. Our actions not only affect us, they affect those who are suffering from the meddling of our CIA, from our aggressive, illegal and unnecessary wars, and from the international aid we provide to so many corrupt authoritarian governments around the world, including those in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Chris Hedges said it best in a very bold piece recently published on Truthdig: "Rebel...It is time to build radical mass movements that defy all formal centers of power and make concessions to none. It is time to employ the harsh language of open rebellion and class warfare. It is time to march to the beat of our own drum. The law historically has been a very imperfect tool for justice, as African-Americans know, but now it is exclusively the handmaiden of our corporate oppressors; now it is a mechanism of injustice. It was our corporate overlords who launched this war. Not us. Revolt will see us branded as criminals. Revolt will push us into the shadows. And yet, if we do not revolt we can no longer use the word “hope.” " (Hedges, 2013).
Hedges, C. (2013, May 19). Rise up or die. Retrieved June 2013, from Truthidg.com: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/rise_up_or_die_20130519/
Solomon, N. (2013, June 13). Clarity from edward snowden and murky response from progressive leaders in congress. Retrieved June 2013, from CommonDreams.org: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/06/13
Williams, M. (2013, June 16). Edward snowden is a 'traitor' and possible spy for china – dick cheney. Retrieved June 2013, from Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/16/nsa-whistleblower-edward-snowden-traitor-cheney