Those who know my writing, here and elsewhere, understand that I view Edward Snowden as a heroic figure – on par with Daniel Ellsberg – and look upon Glenn Greenwald's reportage as both brave and invaluable.
Regarding the latter, one of Greenwald's principal talents is his pointed ability to identify not just injustices, but hypocritical policies and positions among those in power which enable and further such injustices.
For this, I consider him a national treasure.
However, he has begun to hit upon a trope recently that has begun to rub even his most ardent supporters a bit wrong: his caricature of Democrats and liberals as hypocrites.
The following Tweet from today exemplifies this caricature Greenwald has been hammering, without pause, for many days:
Now, I don't begrudge Greenwald the observation. Conversely, it's entirely valid and constructive to point out that there are many liberal Americans who, during the Bush years, were vocal critics of his administration's constitutional breaches, but who have come to Obama's defense for similar (and more egregious) breaches.
How liberals can go from admiring Dan Ellsberg to cheering Obama's systemic attack on leakers is a testament to their intellectual dexterity— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) June 22, 2013
It is entirely reasonable and valuable to point out that liberals who continue to hold Daniel Ellsberg up as an icon, while demonizing Snowden, are doing so disingenuously.
However, the problem I have is this: those loud, hypocritical voices upon which Greenwald focuses do not represent the whole of liberalism or progressivism. There are many among us, whether we identify as Democrats or liberals or progressives, who agree with Ellsberg himself that Snowden is a national hero, that his revelations about the NSA's surveillance reach were done in the interest of the public good, and that Greenwald's reporting should be hailed for its journalistic integrity.
I am not a caricature, and while being cast as one has not made me waver in my support of Snowden or my calls for greater transparency from the Obama administration, becoming grouped as a caricature in Greenwald's writing has made me less likely to be his ally.
And that's a shame. My hope? That Greenwald, in his efforts to build support in the struggle against the 'surveillance state' within which we all now live, begins to more broadly champion those liberals who refuse to support the Obama administration in this matter simply because of the (D) next to his name.
As a commenter pointed out, Greenwald responded to someone on Twitter who wanted him to clarify that only "some liberals" are hypocritical:Greenwald's response is wholly appreciated (and unique, in my view), and is exactly the type of thing I feel he needs to be doing more often. For if he does view most liberals as not holding such hypocritical views, he should not be (unintentionally) building this caricature of the disingenuous Democrat. For the sake of coalition building.
Yes: far from all or even most RT @steveyknight some liberals*— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) June 22, 2013