Our old friend Rod "Scotland is NOT a nation" Liddle has penned a piece in the Spectator with the supremely ironic title "Who’s talking the most nonsense about Edward Snowden? It’s a tough contest". It really isn't, Rod.
"Edward was a fairly low-level CIA technical contractor in Hawaii when he released to the world details of his government’s clandestine electronic surveillance programme (Prism) and also some stuff about our own much-loved GCHQ in Cheltenham. Apparently shocked to the core to discover that the security services were secretly spying on people, Edward was gripped by a spasm of narcissistic outrage and said: ‘I don’t want to live in a society which does these sorts of things.’ No, indeed — at which point he duly fled the immoral and abusive USA for a bolthole in the open, transparent, consensual and liberal People’s Republic of China, where ‘these sorts of things’ are beyond the pale."
What someone who has been down a hole for the last few weeks might be forgiven for not picking up from those words is that Snowden in fact fled to Hong Kong, which may be technically part of the People's Republic of China, but is universally recognised (except by those playing tedious rhetorical games) as a distinct jurisdiction with radically different values and traditions. It does, by all accounts, have a relatively good track record of protecting free speech that puts mainland China to shame. It's true that it doesn't have such an impressive democratic tradition, but whose fault is that? Why, that would be the United Kingdom, that renowned "beacon of liberty throughout the world". If Britain had democratised Hong Kong in the 1950s, 60s or even 70s, and given the new system a chance to bed down before the handover to China in 1997, it would have been very hard for Beijing to reverse the process. Instead there was a last-minute reform package in 1995 which seemed to have the sole purpose of salving London's imperial conscience, and which was unsurprisingly dispensed with by the new regime two years later. China can now quite accurately claim to have control over a Hong Kong that is more democratic than it was for all but two years of its period as a British colony.
"He had been expected to depart the next day on a flight to the freedom-loving bastion that is Cuba, from which destination he was expected to take a further flight to Venezuela and hence to that last recourse for faux-leftish narcissistic whistle-blowers, Ecuador. This supposed stage of his trip, then, comprises exclusively belligerent and corrupt gringo-hating quasi-socialist banana republics where the respective records on human rights leave a little to be desired, frankly. Ecuador, for example, has recently been castigated by both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International for ‘undercutting’ freedom of speech and freedom of the press, as well as having a corrupt and politically partisan judiciary and locking up people on trumped-up terrorism charges. When he eventually arrives in Quito, will Edward be forced to conclude once more that he does not wish to live in a society which ‘does these sorts of things’? Or will he manage, somehow, to square it with his overweening conscience — in the manner of that other supreme narcissist, the WikiLeaks weirdo Julian Assange, who is still holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy and appears every so often on the balcony to wave to his deluded supporters (Mr J. Pilger Esq.) and smirk at Jemima Khan.
The notion, for either Assange or Snowden, that there might be greater evils in the world, and that they might well be aiding these greater evils, simply does not impinge. For Snowden, clearly, it is the precise opposite of that old exhortation, my country right or wrong. It’s any country but my country, no matter how wicked it might be. It is again the unthinking absolutism of the fool, or the tyrant."
Hmmm. You, Rod, might not be able to understand why the human rights abuses committed on an unimaginable global scale by the world's sole superpower are of slightly more concern to the average international citizen than the human rights abuses committed by Ecuador, but I can assure you there are intelligent hamsters in Auchtermuchty who can.