Why Millennials Actually Support Edward Snowden (Whether They Know It Or Not)


Edward Snowden wants to remain in Russia. The former employee of a National Security Agency subcontractor gained international attention when he leaked highly classified intelligence documents to the news media. The data revealed unscrupulous mass surveillance being conducted by the NSA on foreigners and American citizens, as well. This I detail in my book Saints and Dragons, Edward Snowden in his Own Words, the newest Thought Catalog offering.

After the disclosures, Snowden took refuge in Russia. And according to his attorney there, the NSA whistleblower has “submitted documents for extending his stay in Russia” past when his temporary asylum is set to expire on July 31st.

Snowden’s plans to stay in Russia come at a delicate time in US relations with its allies, and in particular, Germany, a key player in the current Ukraine crisis and in dealing with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government has just asked the top representative of America’s secret services unit in Berlin to leave the country.

When Snowden’s leaks first occurred, intelligence officials were quick to point out the overwhelming harm Snowden had done to US security. However, not one was able to substantiate a single intelligence operation being jeopardized. But when further leaks revealed the NSA was also spying on America’s closest allies, all hell broke loose. It was even alleged Merkel’s personal cell phone had been bugged by the NSA.

Since the intelligence leaks, diplomatic relations with Germany has plummeted. A member of Merkel’s own Christian Democrats, who chairs the committee overseeing intelligence services in Berlin, stated that the expulsion request was in response to America’s “failure to cooperate on resolving various allegations starting with the NSA and up to the latest incidents.” The incidents he was referring to were two German officials recently arrested in Berlin and charged with spying for the US; who, it turns out, were in key contact with the US embassy staffer now being asked to leave.

Merkel was quoted as saying, “Viewed with good common sense, spying on friends and allies is a waste of energy. In the cold war, it may have been the case that there was mutual mistrust. Today, we live in the 21st century.” According to insiders, Merkel has finally run out of patience with Washington’s failure to explain its covert actions.

In light of the current upheavals worldwide, one cannot help but view a broader movement afoot. As far back as Tiananmen Square, the youth of the world was beginning to show displeasure with the status quo. Protests followed throughout on a global scale. The Arab Spring erupted across the Middle East. In New York, Occupy Wall Street assembled against unchecked US capitalism. Street protests broke out in Moscow against Putin’s government and the Pussy Riot arrest followed. The demonstrations in Ukraine are only the latest in this worldwide dissatisfaction. Millennials everywhere are making themselves heard. “We’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore!”

Millennials or Generation Y, who have also been called the Peter Pan generation because of their perceived tendency to reject certain rites of passage into adulthood, see their previous Generation X and all others before them as lacking an ethical moral code; at least a moral code they claim to espouse.

It is little wonder that when Edward Snowden burst onto the scene, Millennials were overwhelmingly supportive of his actions with 56% under the age of thirty saying he did the ‘right thing’ regarding the NSA. Snowden added that, “This ‘post-terror generation’ rejects the idea that we have to burn down our village in order to save it—that the only way to defend the Constitution is to tear it up.”

Millennials are questioning everything we do. Is this a new moral code we will all be expected to live by in the future? Only time will tell. One can only wonder what will come out of the Bowe Bergdahl incident, the American soldier who walked off his post in Afghanistan and was captured by the Taliban. His impetus for leaving was apparently his own moral conscience.

Millennials are watching… Thought Catalog Logo Mark

For a truly provocative read, check out Saints and Dragons, Edward Snowden in His Own Words.


New York-based fiction and non-fiction writer. Books available here.

Keep up with Claude on claudebrickellquoideneuf.blogspot.com

More From Thought Catalog