Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Saint Edward, Barracuda Barack, and the Media

One look at the July 1, 2013 edition of Der Spiegel had me remembering the New Yorker cover of Obama as the black Thomas Jefferson.   But nobody could live up to Jefferson, least of all Jefferson.  The brilliant author of the Declaration, the Notes on the State of Virginia, and the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom (just to name my favorites) owned slaves, bullied his daughters, tried to steal at least one other guy's wife (at least he was in love with her) and handled his finances disastrously.  Whaddaya expect of a genius?  That he be a mature, wise, consistent man?  
Obama is or was an advocate of exactly the kind of transparency Ed Snowden is demanding.  I wonder how Snowden is doing.  I keep remembering the Tom Hanks film about the guy stuck at the airport terminal because his country is in the middle of a revolution.  So are we.  In human understanding of how even as I sit right here typing something of little interest to anyone but myself, some dude is being paid to monitor my subversive desire to support Ed Snowden in any way I can.  Because I don't think Snowden threatened American national security.  I think he embarrassed the president and the N.S.A.
On the cover of the Spiegel, a photo montage portrays Snowden in a white light--only his halo is missing--and lurking in the background, with angry, shifty eyes, an Obama whom one expects to sprout vampire fangs--they look like they're already there under his lip.   "ALLEIN GEGEN AMERIKA" blares the headline ("ALONE AGAINST AMERICA") adding, "Edward Snowden: Held Und Verräter."  Hero and Traitor.  (No either-or for these Germans.  Let's get complicated is the name of the game in these parts.)
With whom would Jefferson have taken sides?  I want to say Ed! But the truth is probably that it would have depended on the day--and on Jefferson's mood.  "I am of a sect by myself as far as I know," he remarked about religion--an area in which his tastes changed with remarkable speed, and he did cut apart the Bible and rearrange it as he saw fit.  When he wrote in the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom that the law should “comprehend, within the mantle of it’s protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination [sic],” he wasn't just granting equal protection to unbelievers, he was outing himself as "the Infidel of every denomination."  He seems to have enjoyed changing his mind and protecting those with equally volatile minds.   He liked underdogs, and a Jeffersonian democracy remains one that protects them.  I believe that Snowden is exactly the kind of underdog that Obama should take under his wing.  That undignified sweep-search of the Bolivian president's plane used resources that would have been better spent on the Boston bombers.    At the moment everything's reduced to--for lack of a less vulgar phrase--a pissing contest.  Ed won.  He made his point.  He's smart.  Hand him his passport and let him work for you, Mr. President.  No one has a better sense of national security than Ed Snowden.  

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