John Oliver’s interview with Edward Snowden about the abuses by the US government has been viewed over 4.3 million times and so of course the apologists for the national security state in the media and politics have come out of the woodwork to smear him yet again because they fear that his exposure of widespread government surveillance in pursuance of ways to control the population and suppress dissent will enable those seeking to curb those excesses to gain traction. These people may say they fear terrorism but what they really fear is transparency and democracy.
Glenn Greenwald points out that the way these people try to discredit Snowden is along the same lines as what they said about Martin Luther King, Jr. and Daniel Ellsberg when they challenged the powerful in former eras. But of course, while nowadays Democrats now claim to see Ellsberg as a hero and even Republicans shy away from publicly criticizing King, both parties get on the bandwagon against Snowden, despite the fact that Ellsberg is one of the most vocal defenders of Snowden’s actions.
As Greenwald says:
I defy anyone to listen to any Democratic apparatchik insinuate that Snowden is a Russian agent and identify any differences with how Nixon apparatchiks smeared Ellsberg (or, for that matter, how today’s warnings from Obama officials about the grave harm coming from leaks differ from the warnings issued by Bush and Nixon officials). The script for smearing never changes — it stays constant over five decades and through the establishments of both parties — and it’s one of the reasons Ellsberg so closely identifies with Snowden and has become one of his most vocal defenders.
The attack of the NYT editors on King for that speech is strikingly familiar, because it’s completely identical to how anti-war advocates in the U.S. are maligned today. It begins by lecturing King that his condemnation of U.S. militarism is far too simplistic: “the moral issues in Vietnam are less clear cut than he suggests.” It accuses him of “slandering” the U.S. by comparing it to evil regimes. And it warns him that anti-war activism could destroy the civil rights movement, because he is guilty of overstating American culpability and downplaying those of its enemies.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Almost. Because with the internet, we have at least some power to fight the propaganda in real time. In days gone by, the mainstream media and their government sources would have almost completely control over the message. But not anymore.