Edward Snowden, Non-Person of the Year
Time Magazine that bastion of Conventional Wisdom named Pope Francis as its Person of the Year. The whole notion of a Person of the Year is kind of hokey –there’s a word I haven’t used in a while. On one level, it’s a perpetuation of the Great Man view of history, that history is not made by the peoples of this world but by their leaders. You can see why this concept would be so attractive to the rich and elites who actually run things. Leaders, if they don’t come from these classes eventually join them, and their very notoriety distracts from the power the rich and elites wield. It’s a win-win for them.
And Francis is just the kind of person our ruling classes would choose for this purpose, an unpretentious autocrat that they can portray as a reformer. They know too that his hands will be full with a corrupt bureaucracy, an out of touch hierarchy, and burnishing a church’s image tarnished by child abuse scandals. The odd anti-neoliberal pronouncement now and then they can live with and safely ignore. They can even call him the “people’s pope,” a fine sounding oxymoron, because they know Francis won’t be mounting any barricades. In Argentina, he got along with the powers that be, even when these were a murderous right wing military dictatorship, and he was an opponent of South America’s people based liberation theology. So people’s pope is a savvy piece of marketing, essentially the status quo.
Contrast this with a nobody who risked everything to bring incontrovertible proof of this country’s out of control police state, operating beyond the law and the Constitution and directed at everyone and everything on the planet. Edward Snowden is not one of the elites. He lacked the credentials. He was just a talented hacker with some morals. And that was enough for him to shake up the world’s hegemon and change its perception around the world.
Edward Snowden made a difference, and for that reason, he must be ignored* and treated as a non-person. And this is what the Establishment hacks at Time have duly done. But just because they have doesn’t mean we have to buy into the scam. Snowden had the grace and good sense to take himself out of the picture, despite the best efforts of government and media to make the story about him. He kept the focus on the content of his disclosures.
So while I don’t have much use for a Person of the Year, I thoroughly like the idea of a Non-Person of the Year and for that honor, I'm naming Edward Snowden.
*To show how far this goes, the celebrity journalist (another oxymoron) Barbara Walters wanted to name Edward Snowden as her Most Fascinating Person of the Year, but the idea was torpedoed by ABC. Apparently, they were concerned that Walters had inadvertently lurched into actual journalism.