In his truly strange and illogical piece on Edward Snowden in The New Yorker, Jeffery Toobin calls the whistleblower a narcissist. A narcissist who gave up an easy life and a cute girlfriend in Hawaii, where he was earning $200,000 a year, for a life of exile and fear? Who the hell does Snowden think he is, anyway? Always looking out for number one!

7 thoughts on “NARCISSIST

  1. I think it may be a bit early in the game to be making either a martyr saint or a paranoid narcissist out of Mr. Snowdon. The two are not mutually exclusive, anyway. He may be a courageous hero, but I imagine that he is not hurting for money right now, nor will he be in the future. I heard Putin may give him asylum, but he better keep quiet about Pussy Riot.

    • Nathan Hale might have been a narcissist for all we know, up to a point — I still respect his sacrifice.

      • Sure. As I said, he could be both. And, as a beat up old lawyer once said, “Even paranoid people have enemies.”

  2. The proper term for Snowden is revolutionary. To abandon a comfortable life for a life of outlawry, to engage in deceit and deception without compunction in pursuit of your ends, to evade capture by any means at hand in order to continue your struggle, to have a penchant for self-dramatization — these are characteristics of a revolutionary. An advantage of the term is that it doesn’t beg the question of right or wrong; a revolutionary can simultaneously be a hero to one faction and a villain to another. To be a traitor you would have to be working for the benefit of a particular foreign government, I would say.

    • I take your point in general, Robert, although I’d say his deceit and deception have been pretty minor, in that he has taken full responsibility for what he has done (unlike his governmental overlords, who are still trying to evade responsibility for what they have done), and if one of his major goals was to to evade capture at all costs, he could have arranged a better escape plan and hiding place. His willingness to disobey laws which he feels are immoral could possibly be revolutionary in intent, done with a desire to bring down a government, but strikes me as more reformist, along the lines of Martin Luther King, who also broke laws he felt were immoral as a form of witness against injustice.

      • I would say that if someone takes a job in which he has signed an agreement not to reveal classified material for the express purpose of revealing classified material then he’s engaging in deception and deceit. Snowden wasn’t violating the law the way someone who sits at a lunch counter where he’s forbidden to sit does, he was violating the law the way a spy does. The hallmark of civil disobedience a la Martin Luther King is that you have so many people disobeying the law that they can’t all be jailed. This is a case of one person deciding for himself that he’s going to reveal classified information. The question I ask if I’m you is, how can anyone legitimately put this question before the people if everyone who knows about it is forbidden to say? The question I ask in return is, you’ve been living under this “tyranny” for over ten years, so how has it actually affected your life? The problem the people who are filing the lawsuits are going to have is coming up with a theory of damage. A policeman can shoot an innocent person with his gun or beat an innocent person with his nightstick, and sometimes they do. This hasn’t yet been considered a reason to disarm policemen. If nobody is actually being shot or beaten then it would be even less of a reason. To justify his actions Snowden is going to have to show that NSA operatives were actually able to listen to the content of phone calls or read the content of e-mail at their own discretion, which he hasn’t done yet. Dialed number records or information that Google or Facebook sells to anyone who pays for it aren’t going to cut it. Of course, he could be saving the best for last.

        As for taking refuge in Hong Kong, the wisdom of that depends on how good Snowden’s judgment actually is. Forgive the comparison, but I recall when we all thought that O.J. Simpson tried to commit the perfect crime but instead put his own head in a noose. Didn’t turn out that way, did it?

        • The idea that the state should be able to do anything it wants to citizens and citizens should have no recourse unless they go to court and prove damages would have horrified the framers of the Constitution, as it horrifies me. It’s totalitarian logic, akin to the idea that we have no reason to fear unreasonable search and seizure if we have done nothing wrong. The whole idea of the Bill of Rights, and especially the 4th Amendment, is that the state is obliged to establish probable cause BEFORE infringing on the rights and liberties of citizens. If Obama had probable cause to seize and search my phone records, I’d like to know what it was — indeed I DEMAND to know what it was.

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