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

More articles by:

David Macaray is a playwright and author. His newest book is How To Win Friends and Avoid Sacred Cows.  He can be reached at dmacaray@gmail.com

Weekend Edition
November 17, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Thank an Anti-War Veteran
Andrew Levine
What’s Wrong With Bible Thumpers Nowadays?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The CIA’s House of Horrors: the Abominable Dr. Gottlieb
Wendy Wolfson – Ken Levy
Why We Need to Take Animal Cruelty Much More Seriously
Mike Whitney
Brennan and Clapper: Elder Statesmen or Serial Fabricators?
David Rosen
Of Sex Abusers and Sex Offenders
Ryan LaMothe
A Christian Nation?
Dave Lindorff
Trump’s Finger on the Button: Why No President Should Have the Authority to Launch Nuclear Weapons
W. T. Whitney
A Bizarre US Pretext for Military Intrusion in South America
Deepak Tripathi
Sex, Lies and Incompetence: Britain’s Ruling Establishment in Crisis 
Howard Lisnoff
Who You’re Likely to Meet (and Not Meet) on a College Campus Today
Roy Morrison
Trump’s Excellent Asian Adventure
John W. Whitehead
Financial Tyranny
Ted Rall
How Society Makes Victimhood a No-Win Proposition
Jim Goodman
Stop Pretending the Estate Tax has Anything to do With Family Farmers
Thomas Klikauer
The Populism of Germany’s New Nazis
Murray Dobbin
Is Trudeau Ready for a Middle East war?
Jeiddy Martínez Armas
Firearm Democracy
Jill Richardson
Washington’s War on Poor Grad Students
Ralph Nader
The Rule of Power Over the Rule of Law
Justin O'Hagan
Capitalism Equals Peace?
Matthew Stevenson
Into Africa: From the Red Sea to Nairobi
Geoff Dutton
The Company We Sadly Keep
Evan Jones
The Censorship of Jacques Sapir, French Dissident
Linn Washington Jr.
Meek Moment Triggers Demands for Justice Reform
Gerry Brown
TPP, Indo Pacific, QUAD: What’s Next to Contain China’s Rise?
Robert Fisk
The Exile of Saad Hariri
Romana Rubeo - Ramzy Baroud
Anti-BDS Laws and Pro-Israeli Parliament: Zionist Hasbara is Winning in Italy
Robert J. Burrowes
Why are Police in the USA so Terrified?
Chuck Collins
Stop Talking About ‘Winners and Losers’ From Corporate Tax Cuts
Ron Jacobs
Private Property Does Not Equal Freedom
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Mass Shootings, Male Toxicity and their Roots in Agriculture
Binoy Kampmark
The Fordist Academic
Frank Scott
Weapons of Mass Distraction Get More Destructive
Missy Comley Beattie
Big Dick Diplomacy
Michael Doliner
Democracy, Real Life Acting and the Movies
Dan Bacher
Jerry Brown tells indigenous protesters in Bonn, ‘Let’s put you in the ground’
Winslow Myers
The Madness of Deterrence
Cesar Chelala
A Kiss is Not a Kiss: Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children
Jimmy Centeno
Garcia Meets Guayasamin: A De-Colonial Experience
Stephen Martin
When Boot Becomes Bot: Surplus Population and The Human Face.
Martin Billheimer
Homer’s Iliad, la primera nota roja
Louis Proyect
Once There Were Strong Men
Charles R. Larson
Review: Mike McCormack’s Solar Bones
David Yearsley
Academics Take Flight
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail