Citing hypocrisy a slippery slope considering U.S. track record
Photos of Edward Snowden, a contractor at the National Security Agency (NSA), and U.S. President Barack Obama are printed on the front pages of local English and Chinese newspapers in Hong Kong in this illustration photo June 11, 2013. Snowden, who leaked details of top-secret U.S. surveillance programs, dropped out of sight in Hong Kong on Monday ahead of a likely push by the U.S. government to have him sent back to the United States to face charges. (REUTERS)
Columnists Laila Yuile and Brent Stafford battle over the issues of the day. The winner of last week’s duel on education funding was Laila with 69%.
This week’s topic:
Does Russia's behaviour from the Olympics to the Ukraine suggest Edward Snowden is a hypocrite?
Calling out others for alleged acts of hypocrisy means a person takes a great risk. That risk is ensuring that you haven’t stepped off that slippery slope yourself.
Detractors of Edward Snowden — Brent included — have relied heavily on the fact that he sought asylum from both China and Russia to malign and discredit the former National Security Agency contractor. Snowden remains in an undisclosed location in Russia as a fugitive from American authorities seeking his arrest on charges of theft of government property and espionage.
Russia is still very much a totalitarian government, witnessed by the public and brutal treatment of the band Pussy Riot in footage that recently went viral — while the Olympics were in full play. There is no pretending otherwise.
Being openly gay in Russia isn’t an option, not even for Olympic athletes and supporters from around the world who face harsh penalties for expressing love for a same-sex partner in public. Freedom of the press in Russia is an oxymoron and questions linger as many struggle with having participated in an Olympic games held in a country that doesn’t recognize many basic freedoms and equalities we take for granted in Canada.
Brent claims that Snowden’s criticism of American policy and actions can’t be taken seriously because Snowden has ignored a litany of human rights abuses around the world involving Russian support.
Yet this is exactly the point where Brent steps off the green grass and onto the slippery slope of using human rights to bolster his argument against Snowden — specifically as it relates to the United States.
Last week, Arizona legislators passed a bill allowing business owners to refuse service to gays and lesbians as a protection to religious freedoms, in what some refer to as setting back the clock 100 years.
Amnesty International has called for closure of the United States detention facilities in Guantanamo Bay and in Afghanistan — where detainees have been held indefinitely without trial, and allegedly tortured and abused — for a long time. And who can forget the subsequent treatment of U.S. Army Pte. Chelsea (Bradley) Manning, who exposed the senseless and indiscriminate killing of Iraqi civilians among other horrific details of the American war on terror — to which the U.S. was complicit by participation or by turning a blind eye?
The only hypocrite in this debate is the one who pretends the United States is any different from Russia on many fronts. In this Duel Brent, that matters.
Laila Yuile is an independent writer, blogger and political commentator. You can read her blog at lailayuile.com.
Who wins this week's duel on Edward Snowden?