There are some people who forget about others as soon as they are out of their presence, and there are others whose memory tends to haunt them no matter where they may wander. Sadly, I am among the latter sort of people. At times, though, what is normally a curse can be a benefit, as it helps me think of unusual parallels that others may miss because they have forgotten what came before. For example, right now there is an ironic bit of geopolitical mystery going on between the United States and China that may be significant. Since the ironies may not be readily obvious to many people, though, I will do my best to explain it briefly.
While I was living abroad, before my own exile back “home,” there was a case that briefly got into the news in Southeast Asia about a blind political activist who was able to flee to the United States to avoid imprisonment for his protest against the immoral activities of the Chinese government . Among their immoral activities is to have blocked every blog of mine since the early 2000’s. Apparently they think I am some kind of pro-democracy radical whose writings are dangerous and unacceptable to the average English-reading Chinese citizen. I’m not sure exactly what would give them that idea. The fact that they aren’t the only country who feels that way gives me a little bit of pause concerning future travel plans, though.
It is not mysterious why some people would want to escape tyranny and find asylum in the United States. What is mysterious is that a nation like the United States would so consistently find people seeking exile because of their acts in exposing the information the United States has collected and sought to keep private. Both in the wikileaks scandal, as well as in the recent case where an NSA whistleblower exposed information gathering from our government on its own law-abiding citizenry , people were led to flee for foreign exile in order to avoid prosecution for their acts. Others, including the soldier who took classified information for wikileaks, were not so fortunate as to avoid imprisonment. Snowden, the NSA whistleblower who fled to Hong Kong, appears to be interested in fighting it out in the courts to preserve his freedom and reputation in a place where he has some hope for justice.
On the surface, it would appear deeply ironic that China (a nation that has its own scandals involving spying on the United states) would have any interest in defending someone who exposed the sort of activity it regularly engages in. Then again, geopolitics, or the desire to exploit someone’s political crises for one’s own gain, does not rely on logic but rather on expediency. It little matters that China is a worse sinner than the United States as long as the corrupt behavior of the United States helps take away our ability to claim the moral high ground without hypocrisy. Sometimes it is seen as worthwhile to remove the moral high ground of someone else even if it opens the responsible party to their own just accusations of hypocrisy. Tu quoque is a strategy that is immensely common when one is dealing with questions of political behavior, though.
It would of course be far better for the international reputation of the United States if it avoided behavior such as spying on our own citizens. Never mind the fact that the amount of information that can be found about people is overwhelming in its among, and not particularly useful in performing any useful or acceptable task that should be left to our national government, but the fact that the existence of such information makes the well-being and reputation of people dependent on the security of our government, which is not exactly a comforting thought, even if the government could be trusted with information on its citizenry, which is itself highly dubious. In the meantime, we will be treated to geopolitical circuses that promise (through the use of discovery) to expose our government to further ridicule and scrutiny around the world.