Today is the Fourth of July, Independence Day. This is a holiday that means a great deal to me. In 1776, courageous and principled people took a stand against tyranny, pledging, as the Declaration said, their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. High-sounding words, but full of meaning. And if that weren’t enough to make the day special, 150 years ago saw the forces of the Union strike a tremendous blow against slavery at Gettysburg and Vicksburg. However uncomfortable it makes the contemporary cynic, these were people risking everything for the sake of principle.
The fight against oppression has come full circle; where once it was waged by the United States government, now that government has become the oppressors, and the fight for freedom must be waged against it. The most recent defender of freedom is Edward Snowden, who exposed the anti-democratic actions of the United States, for which he is being slandered by the corporate controlled media, and pursued with a fury George III and Jefferson Davis couldn’t even have imagined.
Several writers I know stepped up and took a public stand against the persecution of Edward Snowden by sending in statements of support to the World Socialist Web Site; some others, perhaps not comfortable with the WSWS, have written statements of support in other places.
But I can’t help but notice some of the ones who haven’t. Without naming anyone in particular, some of those in the sf community who have been most vocal about gay rights, and feminism, and anti-racism, and various forms of what is called social justice, have been strangely silent about this broad-based attack on democratic rights here in the US, and, indeed, internationally. Why is this?
Might it be that they want to stay with “safe” issues, in the sense that anyone you make angry with it can be written off as not worth the trouble?
Might it be that these people are only interested in issues that–whether they are consciously aware of it or not–stand to benefit only those in upper 15% of income levels?
Might it be that they know, or at least sense, that this is a problem that cannot be solved within the confines of capitalism, or, at least, that it challenges society at a deep, fundamental level that what is called social justice only pretends to?
To me, it is tremendously revealing about the nature of these politics that their most fervent advocates are failing to take a clear stand in defense of someone who dared to take an action that benefits the masses of the people against the most powerful enemies of freedom. Instead, they remain secure in concentrating on issues that fall comfortably in line with those in the middle-class mileu in which they (and, to be sure, I) live and work. They remain secure in concentrating on issues in which they can be comfortably self-righteous without threat to their careers. They remain secure in concentrating on issues that are comfortably acceptable to those in power.
While Edward Snowden is hounded from country to country, and the full force of the United States government comes down him because he dared to tell us all things we need and deserve to know, they remain secure and comfortable.
It is revealing; it isn’t pretty.