Pin It
Favorite

Message of the Year 

click to enlarge ted-mcgregor.jpg

Time magazine rightly chose Pope Francis as its Person of the Year for 2013, but I couldn't help think of Edward Snowden as in the running. But it's not because I think he's a hero or a traitor — those labels are too simple.

A true Person of the Year makes you think, as Pope Francis has done — about charity, purity of cause and the value of our institutions in changing times. But with Snowden, too many of us don't want to really think about what he revealed about our government's spying. Again, he's either a hero or a traitor — end of story.

Snowden is a familiar character — like Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers and was called a traitor. Then there was Frank Church, the senator from Idaho, who investigated the CIA and the NSA — even he was named an enemy of the state by many. When faced with an uncomfortable truth, we often don't believe it — or we want to kill the messenger.

But history vindicated both men simply because they were right. It took time, but America ultimately separated the messages that Ellsberg and Church transmitted from them as messengers.

While at first many wanted to lock up Snowden and throw away the key, the message he sent is sinking in. Some in Congress involved in oversight of the NSA have said they are not aware of the extent of the programs. NSA Director Keith Alexander has admitted he lied under oath to Congress. (Alexander is retiring in March.) Now, as huge American communications firms are begging for reform, President Obama's own internal review has recommended 46 changes to the programs. Congress plans to get involved in the discussion in 2014 as well.

Is it possible to be patriotic and a tough critic of the government at the same time? Sen. Carl Schurz was as patriotic as they come — a Civil War general, a U.S. Senator, a newspaperman and a Secretary of the Interior. He put a big caveat on the old adage of "my country, right or wrong" by famously adding, "when wrong, to be put right."

Blind allegiance is not citizenship, and "putting it right" is every American's job. Frank Church's warning was even more stark: "I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency [the NSA] and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision, so that we never cross over that abyss."

Snowden's just a messenger, but if Time published a Message of the Year issue, he'd be on it. ♦

  • Pin It

Speaking of Publisher's Note

  • Please Make It Stop
  • Please Make It Stop

    What's been learned in this Bataan Death March of an election?
    • Nov 3, 2016
  • Staying Engaged
  • Staying Engaged

    From the Mayfair Cafe to Central Park
    • Aug 4, 2016
  • Rift in Reality
  • Rift in Reality

    Is America changing the channel from the real world to fantasy?
    • May 5, 2016
  • More »

Latest in Comment

  • Trust Busters
  • Trust Busters

    Why strengthening antitrust policy is essential to our economic well-being
    • Feb 23, 2017
  • Mardi Bras
  • Mardi Bras

    Do Something: How to get involved with your community this week
    • Feb 23, 2017
  • Facts, Not Fairy Tales
  • Facts, Not Fairy Tales

    In Boise, state leaders are doing their best to prevent students from learning scientific facts
    • Feb 23, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • To Kill the Black Snake
  • To Kill the Black Snake

    Historic all-tribes protest at Standing Rock is meant to stop the destruction of the earth for all
    • Sep 8, 2016
  • America's Largest Hate Group
  • America's Largest Hate Group

    Republicans are lying to people so they can capitalize on fear and hatred
    • Dec 3, 2015
  • Puppy Love
  • Puppy Love

    Burned out by politics? Winston and his kind can help
    • Sep 8, 2016

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

 

Comments are closed.

Today | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu
Spokane Social Sketch

Spokane Social Sketch @ Boots Bakery & Lounge

Last Sunday of every month, 2-5 p.m.

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Ted S. McGregor

  • ON THE RED CARPET
  • ON THE RED CARPET

    Zuill Bailey reflects on winning a 2017 Grammy
    • Feb 16, 2017
  • Between the Concerts
  • Between the Concerts

    Zuill Bailey takes classical excellence to unexpected places
    • Feb 16, 2017
  • Spokane's Silver Salute
  • Spokane's Silver Salute

    Despite being hundreds of miles from the nearest ocean port, Spokane holds a special place in the Navy's heart
    • Sep 29, 2016
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • We Have Not Yet Begun to Fight

    Why we're filling the streets to protest Trump's inhumane, dangerous policies
    • Feb 2, 2017
  • Obscene Gestures

    Spokane political party leaders hope to harness post-election passion into civil discourse. But so far, there's only been more strife
    • Feb 9, 2017
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

briefs


green zone


marijuana


Comment


do something


Readers also liked…

  • To Kill the Black Snake
  • To Kill the Black Snake

    Historic all-tribes protest at Standing Rock is meant to stop the destruction of the earth for all
    • Sep 8, 2016
  • America's Largest Hate Group
  • America's Largest Hate Group

    Republicans are lying to people so they can capitalize on fear and hatred
    • Dec 3, 2015
  • The Bad Wizard
  • The Bad Wizard

    We're now seeing the real mayor behind the curtain
    • Dec 17, 2015

© 2017 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation