Edward Snowden Proves That White Guys Finish First
How else can you explain a dropout hacker with suspect ties to the Chinese becoming a folk hero?
Somehow, Edward Snowden — aka “The Most Interesting Man in the World” — has managed to place himself in a long line of Hollywood whiz kids who take on The Man in fantastic hacking battle scenes from such long-gone classics as War Games, Hackers and (yes, let’s wager on it) The Matrix. Fashioning himself as the new “Neo,” Snowden skipped town and did a hopscotch routine halfway across the world into Hong Kong, of all places, suggesting that the stuffy urban isle is a spectacular democratic oasis of free speech and human rights — a civil libertarian’s dream resort where any self-respecting cause célèbre government watchdog would want to hang out.
But when you think about, this is where the story should have stopped cold and fishy, like a rotted jade perch hooked in the South China Sea. Cleverly pitching his wolf tickets, Snowden conveniently left out the part about Hong Kong being in China, the U.S.’s global sparring partner in the Pacific and emerging economic beast that each year hacks billions of dollars’ worth of American intellectual property and military secrets. He, of course, had to have known this. There should be no look of surprise on Snowden’s face the moment chain-smoking Chinese intelligence dudes knock on (or kick down) his door in a bid to tap the globe-trotting big mouth for more secrets. And that’s if he went to Hong Kong not realizing that in the first place.
Interestingly enough, despite mad holes in the Snowden script, he’s still being treated as a media folk hero who told us stuff we already knew. He’s been appointed to the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, become the latest youthful addition to the Justice League, and earned his leather trench coat red-pill bona fides alongside Morpheus and the Nebuchadnezzar crew. When the news hit, he was oddly celebrated as “naïve” by many geek enthusiasts and stoked pundits who dream of bromance rituals with the baby-faced hacker. “Why would he pick Hong Kong of all places?” asked many, citing a labyrinth of extradition agreements that would complicate Snowden’s plight — all while the former CIA consultant dribbled on about wanting asylum in Iceland.
But it’s all B.S. — you know that, right? Side-eyeing the situation, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI), chair of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, smells it for what it is: Snowden is really working with the Chinese. “He grabbed up information,” said Rogers. “He made preparations to go to China, and then he collected it up, bolted to China.”
Going on weeks now, Snowden has been maxing out on his white privilege card. Few will look at this scene with the needed dose of skepticism it deserves, because they can’t look past the whiny bright “I didn’t do anything” eyes of the “naïve” white kid trapped in China – oh, forgive me, that’s right: Hong Kong. Whatever. Snowden, who goes missing and bolts to land of Asian communism, is buying himself time on this card.
It’s the same card that gives mass-murdering young white guys bizarre benefits of the doubt. They may be hunted down or put in jail for years, but there’s always some clinical explanation excusing their deeds. Jared Loughner kills 19 when targeting a sitting Congresswoman, and still we have yet to hear the “terrorist” designation. James Holmes blasts through an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater killing 24, and folks are still mulling over his psychological state at the time. There was even a weird, analytical pause for the Tsarnaev brothers in the wake of the Boston bombings before Uncle Ruslan heroically shut that down in a few unplugged moments of camera time.
Is this card being used to its limits in the case of Snowden? We don’t know — we’re still scratching our heads for an explanation as to why he has yet to be charged with a crime and why he continues spilling national secrets to the opposing team. But we do know he’s still getting a soft-glove treatment from an admiring press and scores of young don’t-know-it-alls. The reasons for this are baffling as the hacker eloquently punks President Obama, who is stupidly fumbling around for a retort. Either the president decides not to charge Snowden in an effort not to anger his millenial fan base, or the whistle-blowing hacker, unbeknownst to us average folk, is leveraging the information he has as a clandestine bargaining chip. But best believe this slippery cat is by no means the Dalai Lama of libertarians.
We should be asking ourselves, and demanding answers from the government, about how a high-school dropout with a checkered, lonely past ends up on six-figure hacking duty for the most powerful security and intelligence apparatus ever known. I highly doubt a black kid from North Philadelphia dropping out of our fine city’s floundering public school system could snag that kind of gig, regardless of his jaw-dropping skills on a keyboard.
Charles D. Ellison is a political strategist, Washington correspondent for The Philadelphia Tribune and chief political correspondent for UPTOWN Magazine. He can be reached via Twitter @charlesdellison.