Will the Edward Snowden affair mark the beginning of a new press paradigm in the United States? For decades the American media has dutifully relayed the government line, renouncing its role of watchdog charged with exposing government wrong-doing. Whistle-blowers in effect emerged to fill the void. In an unusual incident, when during a press briefing Washington accused Russia of ‘providing a platform’ for Edward Snowden by allowing him to meet with human rights activists in the transit area of a Moscow airport to launch his request for asylum, an Associated Press reporter pointed out that when a person is accused of a crime he does not lose his right to free speech. Will we see more press independence as the Obama administration looks ever more like Hitler’s Germany?
As the United States increasingly behaves like the ‘rogue states’ it professes to combat, one week keeping a Presidential plane from European airspace, and the next affirming that Edward Snowden should have no right to defend himself against charges of treason, the grownups in the room are shaking their heads, forced to admit that the American government has taken a fatal turn toward fascist dictatorship. For those who cling to the hope that this is all a passing aberration, the latest revelation consists of detailed guidelines for government employees to denounce suspicious co-workers. I’m hoping that some historian of the Second World War will step up to the plate and educate us as to the various methods by which Hitler subjugated his people as he turned against the rest of the world.
Meanwhile, we were privileged to witness the Pakistani student who was shot in the face by the Taliban for defending the right of girls to education, celebrating her sixteenth birthday with a stirring speech at the United Nations, affirming that “one girl, one book, one pen can change the world”. Malala was shepherded to her illustrious platform by none of the than former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who beamed in the background as the girl spoke with an assurance that belied her pink sari and headscarf.
Malala, I hope you will benefit from the same tenacity that helped you to recover from a terrifying ordeal as you progress to a position of leadership. That you will not remain a creature of the Browns and the Obamas, but join with the Snowdens of this world, who know how superficial their goodwill gestures are, and what lies beneath them.