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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.

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.


Author's Note:

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.
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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (14+ / 0-)

    "If the Jew who struggles for justice for Palestine is considered anti-Semitic, & if Palestinians seeking self-determination are so accused...then no oppositional move can take place w/o risking the accusation." - Judith Butler

    by David Harris Gershon on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 12:51:10 PM PDT

  •  That statement of his is a truism. n/t (4+ / 0-)
    •  As I state in my post, I view the observation (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      4CasandChlo, doroma

      as valid and necessary.

      What I don't value is the fact that this caricature exclusively represents liberals -- a broad brush cast to paint partisans as hypocrites.

      I'm partisan, and I don't fit this mold. It's necessary to highlight not just those  who fit this "truism," but those who break from it.

      "If the Jew who struggles for justice for Palestine is considered anti-Semitic, & if Palestinians seeking self-determination are so accused...then no oppositional move can take place w/o risking the accusation." - Judith Butler

      by David Harris Gershon on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 12:58:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It is a useless truism: (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        doroma

        The issue of state intrusion into privacy in the name of "safety" transcends the normal definition of political philosophy.

        There are conservative of a libertarian bent that are appalled at the revelations and are very critical of them and there are progressives, like most of us here, who are very concerned and rightly critical.

        And then there are the "liberals" who will defend Obama through anything and there are conservatives that LOVE the new corporate driven strong arm that works to expose and suppress internal dissent.

        Greenwald's point, though factually true, is just valueless given the questions that do not fit traditional political philosophy.

        Blessed are the peacemakers, the poor, the meek and the sick: The "party of Jesus" wouldn't invite him to their convention - fearing his "platform."

        by 4CasandChlo on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 01:07:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Its useful for those who may (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          4CasandChlo, snoopydawg

          be shocked by the contortions most Democrats are going through to rationalize  what we are seeing

          in others, rather than spending hours and days and weeks trying to argue with some of the bat shit comments that are coming out fo the Democrats right now, one can simple note they are people without principles beyond my team versus your team

          What I look forward to is the hypocrites here in fact suddenly being against all these policies once the GOP is o nce again in power

          I will know then to ignore them as morally corrupt propagandist trying to get my vote through lies

    •  It's not a truism. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      4CasandChlo, doc2, second gen

      It assert that to be a liberal is to lack critical thinking.

      In as much as a leaker breaks the law that person should be prosecuted to the extent the law allows, always. It's up to the law and the courts to decide what comes of that prosecution.

      We were not ahead of our time, we led the way to our time.

      by i understand on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 01:02:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  So.... (4+ / 0-)

    ....you really think that when he uses the term "liberals" he is referring to every single American liberal?

    Tyrion Lannister: "It's not easy being drunk all the time. Everyone would do it if it were easy."

    by psychodrew on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 01:03:04 PM PDT

    •  It's the fact that Greenwald has been hammering (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      4CasandChlo, doroma, nosleep4u

      this trope consistently, focusing on the "liberal as hypocrite" characterization such that there's no room, seemingly, to highlight those voices which counter this trope.

      It's not the word. It's the caricature he's built.

      "If the Jew who struggles for justice for Palestine is considered anti-Semitic, & if Palestinians seeking self-determination are so accused...then no oppositional move can take place w/o risking the accusation." - Judith Butler

      by David Harris Gershon on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 01:07:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  But.... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SpecialKinFlag, gooderservice

        ....if he isn't make the argument that all liberals are hypocrites, then there is no trope to counter. Unless you think that people are buying this argument. I don't understand your problem here. What exactly would you prefer that he be doing?

        Tyrion Lannister: "It's not easy being drunk all the time. Everyone would do it if it were easy."

        by psychodrew on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 01:12:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  If you're going to make this argument (10+ / 0-)

        It might help to have more citations of the caricature.  I read the tweet as referring to "liberals [who do that]", not as "liberals [who all do that]".  

        My reading makes perfect sense in its own context, and is a far more plausible interpretation than what you're suggesting.  Your alternate reading (as I understand it) requires more buttressing for support.

        We have always been at war with al Qaeda.

        by Dallasdoc on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 01:31:42 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yeah, I completely see how you could view it (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          chuckvw

          this way. I just didn't have the energy to cull all the Tweets from recent days.

          Thanks Dallasdoc.

          "If the Jew who struggles for justice for Palestine is considered anti-Semitic, & if Palestinians seeking self-determination are so accused...then no oppositional move can take place w/o risking the accusation." - Judith Butler

          by David Harris Gershon on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 01:50:06 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  He's primarilyh talking about Democrats (0+ / 0-)

        rather than the ideology called Liberalism

        Its like when people here can breathelessly say many things that aren't Liberal values, but they nevertheless claim the label Liberal simply because they support the Democratic Party.

        This is actually a recurring theme of his. That the democrats v GOP shapes the debates of what is and is not acceptable believe to the point that it distorts

        Most of the people he's talking about aren't really, but they think they are.

  •  He did clarify when questioned (10+ / 0-)

    "Yes: far from all or even most RT @steveyknight some liberals*"

  •  Guess he wasn't talking about you then. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SpecialKinFlag

    He who would trade liberty for security deserves great customer service.

    by Publius2008 on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 01:08:21 PM PDT

  •  When Glenn gets angry, which is often, (14+ / 0-)

    he has some serious bad habits.

    1. He will use a rhetorical weed-whacker where a rhetorical scalpel would serve him best.
    2. He will let other, longstanding and simmering, grudges and ill-feelings flood into his dialogue.
    3. He's one of the most baitable people into personal flamewars and distracting piefights I have ever seen online.  
    4. He can be sloppy. Working as your own filter and editor can have some serious potholes and less-than-proud moments.
    5. He's not exactly the most humble cat in the universe, his ego getting bruised or his intellectual honestly appearing to be attacked starts some hellish turns, and he does, contrary to his cartoonish strawman version that some attack at every chance, he does apologise and make corrections when he goes sideways a lot more than some give him credit for.

    It is hard to be Glenn Greenwald's ally sometimes.

    He will, on occasion, gloriously trainwreck, or make an ass of himself. It goes with the territory.

    He does a lot of good. The good vastly outweighs the bad and the misfires.
    He says a lot of things that need to be said.
    He often says what you need to hear, not what you want to hear.

    But.

    Sometimes it's like having a friend that you know you have to be aware, and at all times, that he might, misunderstand your position or stance in his fury and his frenzy, and suddenly rage at you, maybe think he might go and punch you, too, in the face if things get heated in the bar or club.

    Or who might take offense at something you say and, suddenly, you find yourself lumped in with the invisible "the following people are total hypocritical water-carrying assholes list" he keeps a running tally of.

    He's a gloriously flawed human being, and I thank goodness for him with the simpering feckless team-player garbage that I often have to wade through trying to stay informed in American politics.

    I prefer that over casting my lot with Tom Friedman or people who are Democrats they way they are Red Sox or Yankees fans. My values shift on the fly based on my team doing it being okay because "I trust them".

    I handle it this way:

    If he's not talking about me, then I don't take offense like he is talking about me.

    Since the Democratic Party establishment, and traditional media "designated liberals" can be a million times more insulting and embarrassing to Democratic voters, I'll live with GG's faults, and take them over the dreck, apologia, and pablum that I have to swim through as a Democratic voter every damned day. From the Village, from my own party, and from the various cadres of people who claim to be defenders of the middle class and progressive values when what they are really doing is being defacto sports fans of a team, right or wrong.

    I am a Loco-Foco. I am from the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party.

    by LeftHandedMan on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 01:25:20 PM PDT

  •  His clarification merely means: "Those who (4+ / 0-)

    don't agree with me."

    I'd like to start a new meme: "No means no" is a misnomer. It should be "Only 'Yes' means yes." Just because someone doesn't say "No" doesn't mean they've given consent. If she didn't say "Yes", there is no consent.

    by second gen on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 01:25:37 PM PDT

    •  I disagree (0+ / 0-)

      It is what the diarist wrote.
      Those that were against it during Bush, but have no problem under Obama.
      It isn't his 'ego', it is the pretzel logic.

      Gitmo is a Concentration Camp. Not a Detention Center. Torture happens at Concentration Camps. Torture happens at Gitmo. How much further will US values fall? Where is YOUR outrage at what the United States does in OUR names?

      by snoopydawg on Sun Jun 23, 2013 at 12:07:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I await Snowden's arrest. Not a fan of Greenwald. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    doroma, Progressif, virginislandsguy

    Sorry.

  •  I don't thinkl he is (8+ / 0-)

    talking about anyone except the die hard Obama loyalists who view him GG as the anti-Obama satanic destroyer of their leader. Maybe he should ignore them but lets face it, just read the venom that gets spewed on this site, in his direction. Sounds like RW bs. Today I read he's another Glenn Beck or James O'Keefe. I think that we need more Glenn Greenwalds, Jesselyn Radicks, Chris Hedges and other 'extremists' who are willing to take on these dead enders posing as Democrat's. These loyalists care nothing about democratic principles, inequity, the law or even the Democratic party.

    Let somebody else figure out how to pull their hypocritical delusional heads out of the sand diplomatically. Meanwhile lets just hope that the truth tellers don't allow the authoritarian Democratic partisans or the freaking security state spooks to shut them up. I am feeling really sick and disgusted about what is being spewed by some of the good Democrat's here regarding the destruction of our Bill of Rights and the creeping acceptance of what the ACLU called 'unconstitutional and beyond Orwellian'.

    Why coddle these people they are dangerous to both our party and any chance we have of restoring our democratic laws or principles. One person today told me that any progressive who hurts Obama should be ostracized. Now that's some sick authoritarian shit. Why shouldn't Glenn Greenwald or anyone else stand up to the must protect Obama at all cost's crowd. Oh yeah I forgot the Republicans are evil and terrist's are gonna kill my family and GG is the Paulite libertarian  anti-Messiah.    
     

  •  Generalizing is a common human trait. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Troubadour

    It's like branding all cops as rotten, or all republicans as greedy bastards, or all athletes as dumb jocks.   Liberals are often painted together as a group as are conservatives and libertarians.  Those terms are self identifications and the beliefs and actions of those self identifying as such do help define the term.  Greenwald fell into the trap of generalizing but he also gave a good example of what many self identified liberals actually believe and do.  So liberals do go from admiring Ellsberg to supporting U.S. imperialism and pervasive surveillance of everyone.  That's why I no longer identify as a liberal.  I disagree with so many other self identified liberals on matters of importance and I don't want to be considered in the same category.  So I'm not a liberal.  I'm not anything, I'm a human and I'm antiwar, anti-imperialism, for this and against that, etc., etc.

    "America is the Terror State. The Global War OF Terror is a diabolical instrument of Worldwide conquest."

    by BigAlinWashSt on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 01:40:18 PM PDT

  •  Absolutely no baiting going on in that tweet. (3+ / 0-)

    Nope. None whatsoever. That GG sure does play it straight.

    Non futuis apud Boston

    by kenlac on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 01:46:15 PM PDT

  •  There is a huge difference in what Ellsberg did (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Catte Nappe, SoCalSal

    and what Snowden did. For one thing, Ellsberg tried for months to get several Senators to release the information. When he did finally share them with the NYT reporter, he did so under a pledge of confidentiality which the reporter broke (also the NYT is an American newspaper, not a foreign one - or two - such as Snowden used).

    You can't scare me, I'm sticking to the Union - Woody Guthrie

    by sewaneepat on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 01:58:54 PM PDT

  •  He shouldn't have used "liberals" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lepanto

    Democrats would have been most appropriate as it is the party loyalists who will do the mental gymnastics required to cheer on their president and party no matter what.

    Obama: self-described Republican; backed up by right-wing policies

    by The Dead Man on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 02:52:21 PM PDT

  •  Guys like Greenwald aren't in to "building (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jan4insight

    coalitions."

    And even if he was, he'd blow away ten times as many people as he'd recruit.  And the ones he would recruit will pick a fight with him down the line.

    "They come, they come To build a wall between us We know they won't win."--Crowded House, "Don't Dream It's Over."

    by Wildthumb on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 03:51:06 PM PDT

  •  Huh? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    the fan man, BradyB
    How liberals can go from admiring Dan Ellsberg to cheering Obama's systemic attack on leakers is a testament to their intellectual dexterity
    I don't know any liberals who have.  I know and have seen here lots of "pragmatic progressives" do the rationalization dance.  I've seen a lot of Obama supporters who claim to be "progressive" look the other way because their Barack just wouldn't do that.  

    But, real dyed-in-the-wool liberals?  Not just no, but hell no.  

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