Glenn Greenwald’s convenient priorities

Just on the facts, Greenwald’s tweet is both wrong and misleading. A majority of liberals oppose the NSA’s surveillance. A majority of Democrats support reductions in military spending, in sharp contrast to other Americans. And Democrats are significantly less likely than other Americans to support the use of drones, and are significantly less likely to care about region or citizenship.

All of this, of course, corresponds with the conventional wisdom that the Democratic left is generally strong on civil liberties and opposed to militarism. It confirms another point everyone already knows, too: that the left is less motivated by self-interest than the right. A majority of liberals have stuck to their principles even though a Democrat is in the White House; this is in sharp contrast to the blatantly opportunistic reversal by the right once Bush left office.

It’s true that the American left is less myopically obsessed with Greenwald’s pet issues than Greenwald is. Progressives tend to prioritize issues like poverty, human rights, social justice, and the environment. Greenwald’s issues are relevant to these concerns, but less consequential and determinative than other problems. More people die of basic malnutrition and preventable disease than drone attacks. Private-sector infringements upon privacy are far more pervasive and invasive than those associated with NSA surveillance.

Progressive priorities also differ from Greenwald’s insofar as they often run against the immediate interests of white, middle-to-upper class American men. He can’t monetize them as easily as he can monetize Snowden’s documents (which remain mostly secret), and he can’t use them to pander to the same lucrative niche audience of libertarians eager to co-opt liberal support towards nefarious ends. Or of gross right-wingers who simply enjoy the petty spectacle of trying to hoist progressives by their own petards.

2 thoughts on “Glenn Greenwald’s convenient priorities

  • March 23, 2014 at 11:48 PM

    I wouldn’t care if Snowden stays hidden forever is SOMEONE, ANYONE would just take Greenwald out of the picture. Of all the white people kidnapped in Brazil regularly, why oh why can’t they please take Greenwald?? Unfortunately, the answer is probably that Brazillian kidnappers can’t stand him as much as most Americans and they realize that nobody would pay them to get him back safely…in fact, quite the opposite. I’d donate more than a few bit coin to a “please kidnap Glenn Greenwald for a few years” fund on kickstarter…

  • March 22, 2014 at 4:05 AM

    Oh man……. What happened to you, Carl?

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