Thanks to Edward Snowden, the NSA whistleblower, we now know for certain what many of us suspected all along – the government of the United States is spying on its citizens – on everyone with a cell phone, landline, or Internet connection.
This revelation broke as President Obama was meeting with the new premier of China, Xi Jinping. Part of the meeting was Obama telling the Chinese Premier to knock it off with all the hacking that China has mounted against the military, government, and industrial database servers here in the US. Jinping retorted that it is the Chinese who are suffering relentless cyber-attacks by the US. This is something we could have reasonably expected, and again, thanks to Edward Snowden, we know that this is true as well.
This is at the same time both alarming and disappointing. Our government is barely indistinguishable from that of China, at least in the realm of cyber-espionage. But when Chinese dissident Ai Wei Wei takes the US to task for behaving just China does against its own citizens, we really ought to take notice, and frankly, take action. He is quoted in TechDirt as saying”
I lived in the United States for 12 years. This abuse of state power goes totally against my understanding of what it means to be a civilized society, and it will be shocking for me if American citizens allow this to continue. The US has a great tradition of individualism and privacy and has long been a center for free thinking and creativity as a result.
In our experience in China, basically there is no privacy at all – that is why China is far behind the world in important respects: even though it has become so rich, it trails behind in terms of passion, imagination and creativity.
When human beings are scared and feel everything is exposed to the government, we will censor ourselves from free thinking. That’s dangerous for human development.
In the Soviet Union before, in China today, and even in the US, officials always think what they do is necessary, and firmly believe they do what is best for the state and the people.
But the lesson that people should learn from history is the need to limit state power.
If a government is elected by the people, and is genuinely working for the people, they should not give in to these temptations.
When I talk to my peers, instead of being outraged by yet again another intrusion of the government into our lives, I am hearing variations of “I don’t really care, I have nothing to hide.” This I find to be deeply disturbing. The founding fathers of the United States understood that ALL governments tend to become corrupt and despotic over time, and gave us the Constitution to protect the citizenry from the depredations of the government. Our Constitution is being trod upon by the the likes of the ironically named Patriot Act and all the other “anti-terrorism” laws that we have been forced to swallow since September 11, 2001.
Benjamin Franklin said that a man who would trade freedom for security will soon have neither. We are living in just those times. I wonder if the damage can even be undone. We need to stand up against this attack on our personal lives. And yet no one seems to care, or is it that we are already to scared to speak up?Share