Friday, July 26, 2013

Manning and Snowden: Are they prepared to pay the price of civil disobedience?

Mohandas K. Gandhi
Mohandas K. Gandhi (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
An important element of civil disobedience is facing up to the consequences of your illegal acts.  As one columnist put it this morning, "But it’s not civil disobedience if you’re not willing to face the consequences of your actions. I hoped that Snowden would come back to the United States and face his accusers in an open and public trial. Instead, he fled to China and then on to Russia — two countries that aren’t exactly known for a commitment to the freedom of their own citizens. And if he ever gets permission to leave Russia, he’s indicated that he might like to settle in Venezuela or Bolivia — two countries that are a lot closer to a “dictatorship of the proletariat” than anything resembling the Constitutional protections that we have long taken for granted."

From Henry Thoreau, who went to jail for refusing to pay a poll tax, to Martin Luther King to Gandhi,  truly committed reformers have been prepared to pay the price of their civil disobedience.  Manning apparently will pay a price, as it seems unlikely the court marshall will acquit him.  Snowden, as this columnist observes, seems to prefer the life of a fugitive.

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