FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Political Asylum Ain’t What It’s Cracked Up To Be

by DAVID MACARAY

As Edward Snowden, the young American accused of blowing the whistle on NSA surveillance tactics, continues his search for a fresh start in a new country in order to avoid extradition and perhaps a lengthy prison term in a U.S. prison, he needs to ask himself a couple of things.

First, can he speak Spanish? According to the latest reports, the two countries most likely to offer him asylum (after the Russians more or less made it clear they didn’t want him) are Venezuela and Bolivia, both of which speak Spanish. Granted, if Snowden has the faculty for picking up a foreign language, he’ll eventually get the hang of it, but until he does, it’s going to be real drag walking around sounding like—and being treated as—a Yankee tourist.

Also, he needs to bear in mind that, as an acknowledged fink (even one motivated by highly defensible ethical reasons), he will never be trusted again, not by anyone. He needs to know that. Because he’s an acknowledged fink, he will never be entirely trusted by friends, casual acquaintances, future girlfriends, or future employers. He also needs to know that the reason Venezuela or Bolivia offered him asylum wasn’t because they coveted him. They largely did it to thumb their nose at the U.S.

Which raises another question. What sort of job does Snowden expect to get, once he relocates? While it’s very likely the country providing asylum will, for the time being at least, provide him with a monthly stipend on which to live, they will eventually expect him to get off his duff and find work.

What kind of career does he plan to have? There is no way in hell anyone’s going to give him a job where he has access to computers or sensitive information. (“Here, Ed, take this stack of documents and file them under Confidential.”) As an American, not only will he always be considered an “outsider,” he has, unfortunately, established a track record as someone who’s willing to take matters into his own hands if he feels there’s a moral or legal justification for doing so. It’s going to be a tough road for this young man.

It was different for actual “defectors,” which Snowden clearly is not. Cold War defectors were a breed unto themselves. Take men like the legendary British spy Kim Philby, who, after years of feeding classified information to the KGB, fled England to live in the USSR where he was treated almost as a national hero. His defection was tantamount to a religious conversion. So enamored was Philby with Soviet-style socialism, he was willing to risk arrest, pack it all in, and betray his own country for it.

But that’s not Snowden. He didn’t blow the whistle on his fellow Americans because he admired Venezuela’s political ideology. Young Snowden just desperately wanted to do the “right thing,” which, in my opinion, he did. Alas, he’s going to be paying for that decision the rest of his life. Que lastima (as they say in Venezuela).

David Macaray, an LA playwright and author (“It’s Never Been Easy:  Essays on Modern Labor” 2nd edition), was a former union rep.  Dmacaray@earthlink.net

David Macaray is a playwright and author. His newest book is “Nightshift: 270 Factory Stories.” He can be reached at dmacaray@gmail.com

More articles by:
June 30, 2016
Richard Moser
Clinton and Trump, Fear and Fascism
Pepe Escobar
The Three Harpies are Back!
Ramzy Baroud
Searching for a ‘Responsible Adult’: ‘Is Brexit Good for Israel?’
Dave Lindorff
What is Bernie Up To?
Thomas Barker
Saving Labour From Blairism: the Dangers of Confining the Debate to Existing Members
Jan Oberg
Why is NATO So Irrational Today?
John Stauber
The Debate We Need: Gary Johnson vs Jill Stein
Steve Horn
Obama Administration Approved Over 1,500 Offshore Fracking Permits
Rob Hager
Supreme Court Legalizes Influence Peddling: McDonnell v. United States
Norman Pollack
Economic Nationalism vs. Globalization: Janus-Faced Monopoly Capital
Binoy Kampmark
Railroaded by the Supreme Court: the US Problem with Immigration
Howard Lisnoff
Of Kiddie Crusades and Disregarding the First Amendment in a Public Space
Vijay Prashad
Economic Liberalization Ignores India’s Rural Misery
Caroline Hurley
We Are All Syrians
June 29, 2016
Diana Johnstone
European Unification Divides Europeans: How Forcing People Together Tears Them Apart
Andrew Smolski
To My Less-Evilism Haters: A Rejoinder to Halle and Chomsky
Jeffrey St. Clair
Noam Chomsky, John Halle and a Confederacy of Lampreys: a Note on Lesser Evil Voting
David Rosen
Birth-Control Wars: Two Centuries of Struggle
Sheldon Richman
Brexit: What Kind of Dependence Now?
Yves Engler
“Canadian” Corporate Capitalism
Lawrence Davidson
Return to the Gilded Age: Paul Ryan’s Deregulated Dystopia
Priti Gulati Cox
All That Glitters is Feardom: Whatever Happens, Don’t Blame Jill Stein
Franklin Lamb
About the Accusation that Syrian and Russian Troops are Looting Palmyra
Binoy Kampmark
Texas, Abortion and the US Supreme Court
Anhvinh Doanvo
Justice Thomas’s Abortion Dissent Tolerates Discrimination
Victor Grossman
Brexit Pro and Con: the View From Germany
Manuel E. Yepe
Brazil: the Southern Giant Will Have to Fight
Rivera Sun
The Nonviolent History of American Independence
Adjoa Agyeiwaa
Is Western Aid Destroying Nigeria’s Future?
Jesse Jackson
What Clinton Should Learn From Brexit
Mel Gurtov
Is Brexit the End of the World?
June 28, 2016
Jonathan Cook
The Neoliberal Prison: Brexit Hysteria and the Liberal Mind
Paul Street
Bernie, Bakken, and Electoral Delusion: Letting Rich Guys Ruin Iowa and the World
Anthony DiMaggio
Fatally Flawed: the Bi-Partisan Travesty of American Health Care Reform
Mike King
The “Free State of Jones” in Trump’s America: Freedom Beyond White Imagination
Antonis Vradis
Stop Shedding Tears for the EU Monster: Brexit, the View From the Peloponnese
Omar Kassem
The End of the Atlantic Project: Slamming the Brakes on the Neoliberal Order
Binoy Kampmark
Brexit and the Neoliberal Revolt Against Jeremy Corbyn
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Alabama Democratic Primary Proves New York Times’ Nate Cohn Wrong about Exit Polling
Ruth Hopkins
Save Bear Butte: Mecca of the Lakota
Celestino Gusmao
Time to End Impunity for Suharto’’s Crimes in Indonesia and Timor-Leste
Thomas Knapp
SCOTUS: Amply Serving Law Enforcement’s Interests versus Society’s
Manuel E. Yepe
Capitalism is the Opposite of Democracy
Winslow Myers
Up Against the Wall
Chris Ernesto
Bernie’s “Political Revolution” = Vote for Clinton and the Neocons
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail