1678 Chapters
Medium 9780253017314

5 Taking Snowden Seriously: Civil Disobedience for an Age of Total Surveillance

David P Fidler Indiana University Press ePub


Edward Snowden’s revelations about surveillance by the National Security Agency have dominated global news like few events in recent years. A hero to some and traitor to others, his disclosures unleashed, as he hoped, a worldwide debate about state surveillance in the context of technological advances, the implications of which most policy makers, let alone ordinary people, barely fathom. Hardly a week has passed since the initial disclosures in June 2013 without headline-grabbing reports about new leaks, followed by polarized elite and public reactions. Media have painted a vivid portrait of Snowden’s background and career, supplemented with expert commentary. Politicians and pundits have eagerly proffered sound bites deriding and attacking Snowden. Vociferous responses have come from those—often abroad and viewing themselves as victims of NSA surveillance—more sympathetic to his cause.

Unfortunately, the hoopla has obscured a more vital part of the story, namely the moral and political seriousness with which Snowden acted to make covert NSA surveillance public knowledge. As we now know, and as Snowden anticipated, his decision came at a huge personal cost. The Obama administration’s abrupt cancellation of his passport rendered him effectively stateless, dependent on a Russian government more focused on flexing its weakening muscles as a global power than ending high-tech spying. Sadly, one of our most eloquent critics of state surveillance found himself, partly because of the Obama administration’s draconian response, at the whim of a former KGB spymaster.1

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Medium 9780253012234

4 Palestine-Israel Controversies in the 1970s and the Birth of Brazilian Transregionalism

PAUL AMAR Indiana University Press ePub

Sochaczewski discusses changes in Brazilian foreign policy toward the Middle East throughout the 1970s. She explores how Brazil’s policy of “equidistance” was challenged by oil crises and Palestine-Israel controversies, and how it was gradually abandoned in favor of more economically productive relations with the region, thus charting the emergence of a doctrine of Brazilian transregionalism.

Before the 1970s, Brazil’s foreign policy toward the Middle East was referred to as “equidistant,” oscillating between support for Israel, embodied in the important role Oswaldo Aranha, Brazil’s UN ambassador, played in 1947–1948 when he served as president of the UN General Assembly and supported the partition of Palestine and recognition of Israel as an independent state, and support for Israel’s critics, embodied in Brazil’s support for UN Resolution 242, which in 1967 mandated the full withdrawal of Israel from all territories occupied during the Six-Day War. Implementing this “equidistant” tradition, in early 1973, Brazil’s foreign minister, Mário Gibson Barboza, traveled to Egypt and Israel in order to serve as mediator and messenger between the two sides. He was convinced then of the possibility of peace between the two countries (Barboza 1992, 316). However, the war in October 1973 would force him to change this position.

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Medium 9781576754634

Chapter 9 Too Important for the Private Sector

Hartmann, Thom Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Some aspects of government are just too important to hand over to the private sector.

Among these are the government’s role in protecting life and liberty. Even the cons will say that the government has a role in defending citizens. But they just can’t seem to help themselves. Since Ronald Reagan, the cons have been busy privatizing the most basic features of our government, including the military, the prisons, and our electoral system itself.

The cons ascribe to a religion of privatization. “Anything government can do, we can do better,” they say. Even though corporations have to skim money off the top to pay dividends to their shareholders, pay their CEOs’ huge salaries, and pay for the corporate jets, fancy headquarters, golden bathroom fixtures, and advertising and marketing, somehow the cons think corporations can do things more efficiently than a government that has to pay only civil servants. It defies logic, but they keep repeating this fundamental article of faith-based economics.

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Medium 9781936227037

8. Larry Flynt

Turner, William Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Larry Flynt is no James Madison.

A typical issue of Hustler magazine contains well over 100 of what Flynt calls “pink shots,” close-up pictures of models’ vaginas, sometimes pried open with fingers. That does not make Flynt a First Amendment hero.

Flynt has been prosecuted in various states for publishing “obscene” material. But he has avoided being sent to prison, as the convictions have been overturned on appeal. That does not make him a First Amendment hero.

Every month, Hustler publishes an “Asshole of the Month” column, crudely excoriating a politician or other public figure. Several of Flynt’s targets have sued him for libel and other wrongs. He has won every suit. That does not make him a First Amendment hero.

On one of his trips to the Supreme Court, when he thought the argument his lawyer made had gone badly, he shouted at the justices: “You’re nothing but eight assholes and a token cunt!” Chief Justice Burger ordered him arrested. He has been held in contempt of court on several other occasions, once for wearing an American flag diaper to court. None of this makes him a First Amendment hero.

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Medium 9781576756270

Chapter 1 Cracking the Worldview Code

Hartmann, Thom Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

As Mankind becomes more liberal, they will be more apt
to allow that all those who conduct themselves as worthy
members of the community are equally entitled to the
protections of civil government. I hope ever to see America
among the foremost nations of justice and liberality.


Someone coming to America during one of our national elections might think politics was a kind of sporting event. They’d see a red team facing off against a blue team and hear that a team would win or lose based on how many votes it got.

That kind of thinking got a friend of mine into trouble. Once an outspoken and proud “dittohead,” a few years ago he decided he was going to instead become a liberal (his wife actually decided it for him, but that’s another story). But this guy tripped up because he thought that politics was a sporting event with teams that are just as interchangeable as if a baseball team were to move from Kansas City to Oakland. He thought it was a matchup with a playlist of issues like Social Security, national health care, and the “War on Terror.” On one side of each issue were conservatives and their talking points, and on the other side were liberals and their talking points. He figured all he had to do to switch sides was memorize a new set of talking points, the way a sports team would simply change its venue.

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