A “Wake-Up Call” For The American Left

Mass demonstration for Bradley Manning at Fort Meade. June 1, 2013.

More than anything, I’ve been surprised and confounded at the disagreement and disappointment emanating from my brothers and sisters on the Left for my position regarding the rather overblown NSA leaks and the implications of them for our American society.

The hypocrisy of the Left is sometimes astounding, and certainly lamentable. In a long polemic that everyone should dedicate some time to read, David Simon responds to an argument forwarded from this liberal/leftist position in regards to the NSA leaks, and veritably exposes that hypocrisy:

Thus far, the sum of of liberal argument against the NSA program amounts to a veritable Maginot Line of legal ignorance, borrowed libertarian selfishness and jaw-dropping obliviousness to the notion that those who fear a civil liberties apocalypse and wish to fight against such are decades late to the fields where battles actually rage. Shit, they’re still not in the right place.

Because thus far the folks who are outraged at the NSA for this particular affront are having a hard time making a case against the stated purposes of an actual program with actual goals. That stuff keeps getting in the way of what they really want to discuss, and discuss passionately, which is purely theoretical: The possibility that this kind of information, gathered together, crosses some sort of technological and moral rubicon, that it is here — with this use of this particular digitization — that we lose America to authoritarian overreach. And it’s in that hyperbole — indifferent as it is to actual legalisms and court-honored law enforcement strategie, and to what is politically possible to protect privacy and civil liberties, and what is not — that they lose me. Completely.

But here — with the Chik-Fil-A of national security-civil liberty imbroglios, the left has once again picked the wrong battle, and done so with its usual precision. For starters, the arguments of those opposed to this NRA program make not a dent against the practical application of the data, the legal precedent for such, or the stated goals of this particular program for a societal good. That’s always a problem, regardless of how many terrifying authoritarian nightmares can be conjured off-stage. Good governance is its own argument, and the use of this data, in this particular program, makes practical sense for the purpose the goverment claims. The use of this very data has been a law enforcement asset for decades now; it’s application in this particular program, as a counter-terror measure, is credible. Debates about bad governance — about what will happen if and when the data is misused in another capacity carry less weight with most Americans. We are not a country of luftmenschen, and since at bottom, this government is supposed to be ours, or at least that’s what the owner’s manual still claims in the opening pages, it’s no surprise that already, even in the immediate wake of the revelation of the program, most Americans are tolerant of it.

But not most of the Left, apparently. And that’s where they lose me too.

(Photo by flickr user BM Support)

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