The NSA phone records whistle-blower issue is an intellectual buffet of ideas that we haven't seen in a long time. The reason this one issue is so different than everything else we get bombarded with is it doesn't allow us to follow our normal pattern of opinion forming, which is to land on the side of people that we've already decided we trust. For example, if you trust Obama then you are for healthcare reform; if you don't trust him, then you're against it--pretty simple. We all function this way, no matter how actively engaged in current debate issues we are. I trust the journalists Matt Taibbi and Chris Hayes, and when they present an opinion on an issue that I don't know anything about, it is easy for me to adopt their views on the issue. I don't blindly go about this, and I'm not afraid to disagree with them, but they are two people with whom I have developed a deep sense of trust in how they approach complicated issues.
So here we have this issue that nobody really knows how to feel about. I've seen very few opinions from my conservative friends and relatively few from my liberal friends--most of which are just along the lines of "Snowden did a good thing." This says nothing about the deeper issue at hand, but even more fascinating is where the political superstars are falling on this issue.
Snowden is a criminal and should be punished, and this spying program is what we need.
Snowden is a hero and should be celebrated, and this spying program goes against who we are.
When will we ever see these guys agree on anything again? There is no other issue that will divide these players into these group, and that is just one of the things that makes this so fascinating. On social and environmental issues I'm very liberal, so I do have varying degrees of trust in both Obama and Al Gore. But I can easily place Lindsey Graham and Glen Beck in the "I do not trust at all" category. So I, and most all of us, are in brand new, uncharted territory of having no guiding lights with this issue, and we haven't even gotten into the particulars of the main issue at hand. I love this! This is the intellectual equivalent of our own version of "Survivorman:" being thrust into the wilderness and having to make every decision with only a modicum of information. If you like intellectual adventure, this is it.
The lens that this issue should be viewed through is how we want our government to function in today's information age, and there is no easy black and white answers here. Most Americans don't want the NSA compiling all of their personal information in a huge database, but then most Americans are ok with the NSA using phone records to track terrorists. So it isn't an easy issue, and I have a hunch that this is only the beginning of revalations about secret NSA tactics.
|The NSA headquaters even looks ominous.|
|King leaving the FBI after questioning.|
These are the real issues here. It is not about the whistle-blowers: it is about the type of society we want to live in, and the powers we want to grant our government to keep us safe. So for once we can't just fall in line with whatever side the conservatives and democrats decide to fall on. We have to think about this for ourselves, and I am glad that we have this opportunity. If we had more of these opportunities maybe we wouldn't blindly side with whatever talking points are rammed down our throats by the powers that be, which have been rammed down their throats by the real powers that be: the corporations. Americans having to think for ourselves--I'm all for it.