Snowden as the Alien: From Right to Left

Aha, now Edward Snowden is a Russian spy. This charge, levied by Mike Rogers (R-MI) over the weekend, would seem to oppose what Sean Wilentz claimed in the last issue of The New Republic, that Snowden is a right-wing libertarian nut (supporter of Ron Paul, no less) who wants to destroy the legitimacy of government as such.

An uncanny symmetry worthy of any Cold War melodrama resides within this opposition, however, and Snowden himself nails it in this interview at The New Yorker: liberals and conservatives alike view any significant disturbance of consensus on the legitimacy of the post-totalitarian, national security state as an external shock to a healthy system–that is, an “alien” intrusion on American tradition, which must then be narrated as the non-heroic residue of conspiracy.

In short, the paranoid style is the stock in trade of Snowden’s critics, not an explanation of his actions.


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