Monday, July 08, 2013

A name that should get more coverage than Edward Snowden

Evidently, Edward Snowden will be granted asylum in either Venezuela or some other similar regime. What as onces a reasonably compelling story of a "whistle blower" seems to have evolved into a story about a not so selfless individual who cares more for personal safety than in confronting and enabling real change. Compare Snowden's current situation with that of Alexei Navalny, the Russian dissident who on Friday heard his prosecutors ask for a six year prison sentence. I first became aware of Navalny in March in a WSJ interview He is not the leader of a party but has stood up and fought for extending the benefits of democracy to the Russian system. Putin is a new "czar" in the way that he uses both authority and secrecy. Navalny is quoted as saying "Not one of us has the right to be neutral. Not one of us has the right to shirk from doing what's necessary to make our world better. Each time someone thinks, 'Why don't I step aside and simply everything will happen without me and I'll wait?'

Snowden has spent the last couple of weeks sitting in the holding area in Moscow having some of America's least favorite foreign leaders use him for publicity or to embarrass the US.   Lord knows that some of the issues raised by Snowden should get better coverage.   But the way to improve the situation, in both instances is to not step aside - and yet that is exactly what Snowden seems to be doing.   If he ultimately goes to that delightful garden spot of Venezuela - I say good riddance.  But were he committed to having a substantive discussion about the role of surveillance in a free society he might not be searching for a loft in Caracas.   Somehow his projected new address (the capitol sounds a lot like the English word for BS - Crock) seems to reflect on his commitment to the principles he talked about when the Guardian first made his story public.   The last time the LA Times had a story about Navalny was in April when his trial opened.   But they certainly have devoted a lot of column inches to Mr. Snowden.

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