Edward Snowden and Actuality Television
Fifteen minutes after the broadcast of the long-awaited “Inside the Mind of Edward Snowden,” the nicely photographed NBC interview with Brian Williams, we know little more about this brilliant man than we knew fifteen minutes before the program aired. He speaks very good Standard American English. His presentation of self is disarmingly innocent. In fact, he is so pristinely innocent that were he to be “disappeared” by aliens, the Roman Catholic Church would be obligated to give him sainthood immediately. Edward Snowden is not one of us.
The bit of truth that Snowden communicated to Williams has to do with how the United States of American as a security state has held the United States Constitution hostage since 9/11 and how very powerful technology has destroyed belief that privacy can again become operative. Once destroyed, privacy is possible only in theory and fantasy. All world governments know that. It is unpleasant to think about what world governments knew about our President and our military and our intelligence agencies prior to the advent of Snowden. It is more disconcerting to think about what Snowden has enabled them to know as “fact,” because one is free to believe he only leaked an immense amount of encrypted NSA disinformation. If that be true, our world has entered an advanced state of “science faction.” Damage is damage is damage.
Snowden revealed little about his grandfather who allegedly worked for the FBI. Given that the NBC program allowed us to guess whatever we wanted to guess, one might guess that the grandfather never told Snowden that the FBI and other surveillance agencies had a quite long history of spying on United States citizens at home and abroad. Thus, he had to discover the obscenity of reality by working not as a systems analyst but as a bona fide spy. It is easy to believe that Snowden does not have a family and the he would have great difficulty in producing a birth certificate. I believe Snowden did indeed lie about having destroyed information before he left Hong Kong for Russia. One does not destroy information that is worth a trillion dollars in the blue market.
In a very smart rhetorical gesture, Snowden asserted that he is still working for the United States, the country he loves passionately. I believe he did tell the truth about his current employment, although he failed to provide a job description. Had he been less “in love” with his country, Snowden would probably not have done the right thing wrongly or the wrong thing rightly. He is as transparent as that marvelous novella by Henry James, “The Turn of the Screw.” And the television-viewing public has been royally corkscrewed. Do not blame Obama for that. Blame the hidden and sinister powers that really control NBC and other forms of mass media.
It is not surprising that Snowden does not know whether he is guilty or blameless. Were he merely an actor on reality TV, he would be able to explain his moral state, his ethics without engaging sophisticated trash talk. But like Brian Williams, Snowden is trapped in actuality television, a research area that within less than a decade will become our most vital and viable non-academic discipline.
Jerry W. Ward, Jr. May 28, 2014