Manning and Snowden: Smart, Weird Products of Broken Homes Are Mankind's Last Best Hope

Categories: Schutze

SHZ_GetOffMyLawn_TitleImageV2.jpg
In the year 3013 in public squares at the hearts of modest villages and small capitals the world over, there will be statues of a global hero whose original identity is barely remembered, his or her actual existence in doubt and debated among scholars and the faithful. The exact appearance, face and general physical attributes will vary slightly from statue to statue.
statue.jpg
Library of Congress
High school hero, dressed for a date

But every iteration will express same the essential truth:The hero will always be a gawky, androgynous, too skinny or too fat teenager with not very good skin and teeth that didn't get fixed -- face green with reflected light, eyes bright, a tiny crooked grin at one corner of the mouth.

The hero who saves humankind will be a very, very smart late-adolescent of uncertain sexuality, ignored or battered by stupid irresponsible parents, shunned by knuckle-dragging conformist peers, a weirdo-loser by common standards who spent his or her adolescence bent over a computer playing games, trading anime art online, making up awkward not-terribly-funny personas on social media, then barking angrily at people who say it's not funny.

How in the world could a reject like this become a global hero? Ah, there's the secret, the rub, the thing that will save us all. It's precisely this person, the young Bradley Manning or Edward Snowden, who will save us from ourselves. He or she knows our secrets better than we, sees how we hide them, hates us for them and eventually will always throw them in our faces no matter how long we lock them up in jail cells for it.

If it were up to the rest of us, we would sell our souls to the CIA in a heartbeat, because we're lazy and afraid. The person who spares us the fate we probably deserve is Manning, the brilliant ditched kid with conflicted sexuality, or Snowden, the high school drop-out genius with a third-grade sense of humor, hunched over a computer screen in a darkened bedroom at three on the morning, boring into the hidden architecture of our communal consciousness with the kind of laser vision only an injured, lonely, angry, love-hungry, brilliant adolescent can bring to bear.

We hate guys like that, right? We laugh at them. So why the hell do we put them -- still half-baked, totally weird and not one of us in any way -- at the sensitive nodes of our secret intelligence systems? Because they're so fucking intelligent. It happens because it's in the nature of intelligence in the post-computer era for it to happen. It has to happen. It will keep happening no matter what we do to stop it.

Most of us are at best end-users of intelligence, at worst passive victims of it. But these wily bastards actually know how it works, so we have to put them at the helm if we want to beat the weirdos on the other side.

Intelligence is competitive. To win the online war-game of life, we have to hire the best player. And for some reason the very best player always turns out to be the conflicted misfit-reject, the one who spent adolescence outside the campfire ring peering in, who has that special refracted X-ray vision for relationships and connectivity that comes from youthful exclusion. He or she is the one who spills the beans, because he or she is the one who sees the beans.

How does that make him or her a hero? Oh, well, that's up to you. Not a hero at all, if you like. If you like the choking encroachment of government spying on your life, if you're down with trash consumer mind-control, fascist income disparity and all the other ways we are working to extinguish life on the planet, then don't count them heroes at all.

But you could see them as heroes for two reasons. First, maybe you are not down with all that crap. Given a choice between the two, you will always choose life itself over remote-controlled, battery operated, auto-deodorizing plastic trashcans made by slaves in China. Thanks anyway.

Second, maybe more important, maybe you get that these men and women are not merely inevitable but glorious. They represent the very best in our nature as human beings, an apotheosis of true intelligence that always eventually leads us back to modesty, generosity, love and individualism, against egoism, hatred and callous disregard for life.

A thousand years from now in ten thousand dialects of a world language instantly comprehensible to all human beings, the inscription beneath the statutes will all say the same thing: "WE OWE THIS WORLD TO WEIRDOS."


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35 comments
holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

On August 17, 1975, Senator Frank Church appeared on NBC’s Meet the Press to discuss the results of his full-scale investigation into America’s burgeoning intelligence capabilities. Senator Church revealed startling information and closed with a dire warning to every citizen of the United States:

[America’s intelligence gathering] capability at any time could be turned around on the American people and no American would have any privacy left. Such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide.

If this government ever became a tyrant, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know. Such is the capability of this technology.

I don’t want to see this country ever go across the bridge. I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that [the NSA] and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.

Obummer
Obummer

Yo weze won't be here in da year 3013.

ElFlaco714
ElFlaco714

Don't forget presidents Bubba and Corpse

gordonhilgers
gordonhilgers

Jim Schutze--Shhhhhh......!  Don't let anyone know this top secret information!  Put this article in a safe and don't let anyone ever open it.  Carnivore, Echelon and Prism are simply "cash cows" that feed the intelligence community and allow the police people to play with complex computer toys. 

If we dug really deeply, in other words, we'd discover that all this apparatus is about one thing:  Money. 

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

 The hero who saves humankind will be a very, very smart late-adolescent of uncertain sexuality, ignored or battered by stupid irresponsible parents, shunned by knuckle-dragging conformist peers, a weirdo-loser by common standards who spent his or her adolescence bent over a computer playing games, trading anime art online, making up awkward not-terribly-funny personas on social media, then barking angrily at people who say it's not funny.

Change the anime and computer games part to art and music, and you just summed up Hitler.

DirtyP1
DirtyP1

I'm Pro-'merica as much as the next person and conservative in my values. Typically someone like myself would be bashing these guys, but I'm open-minded. These guys didn't do this for the financial gain, they did it because they have consciences. The information they released has, so far, been deemed not causing any American deaths. Before you judge Manning, have you watched the video that he got to wiki leaks? Are you going to defend that? 

In regards to Manning---September 11th was humbling, we were sucker punched. It wasn't conventional warfare, so we got caught sleeping. Ever since then, we've lost thousands of men and women, hundreds of thousands have returned from the battlefield changed in both mind and body. Don't you want to know what it was for? Don't you want to know what war does to our volunteer military? Or is it better to just sweep it under a rug? People are still dying everyday, our soldiers and mostly the countries were came in to "save" lose many more. Could you imagine a car bomb going off in downtown Dallas and killing close to a hundred people? It would be news for weeks, right? When it happens in Baghdad, we don't give it a second thought. Over July over 500 people have been killed by car bombs in Iraq. We really stabilized that country, way to go USA!

In regards to Snowden--It would be naive to think that the government didn't have this capability. How else can anyone explain the boom in government built data centers? Acres upon acres, the us government has the largest server farms of any company, and they weren't made to process the information you enter for your tax return. At what point do we become so concerned wit national security that we give up our freedom to privacy? Everything you say on a phone, type in an email, where you go with your phone in your pocket, is tracked. Does it not bother you? And don't give me the "well I don't break he law so it doesn't bother me", your rights are being violated, why don't you care?  Pile on the fact that Snowden has confirmed we have even our allies bugged and are eavesdropping on them. The actions of our government affect the way people see us which has a chain effect. People are less likely to visit here and your safety will be compromised when you visit other parts of the world. 

The uptick in gun sales and ownership are for these reasons---people don't trust the government and who could blame them?

ruddski
ruddski

Wait! I thought President Lightgiver was mankind's Last Best Hope.

MikeWestEast
MikeWestEast

Based on the NY Times reporting, Mr. Manning was a total loser. He was not contributing. He had no business being around any info more sensitive than the menu at the mess hall. Striking an officer? AWOL? The Army better tighten up and start weeding this scum out of the service. Brave men and women that defended this nation in combat must now leave because financial reasons drive reductions. If we have any more like Mr. Manning somehow staying because their officers are asleep at the switch, the Army needs to Hoover and dump them.

As for Mr.Manning, as a convict, the next thing to get his sorry behind out of that uniform he disgraced. We do do not need any more pictures of him in it.

observist
observist topcommenter

" very, very smart late-adolescent of uncertain sexuality, ignored or battered by stupid irresponsible parents, shunned by knuckle-dragging conformist peers, a weirdo-loser by common standards who spent his or her adolescence bent over a computer playing games, trading anime art online, making up awkward not-terribly-funny personas on social media, then barking angrily at people who say it's not funny."

Applies to:

Hero who saves mankind

Despot who starts a genocide

Inventor of next great technology

School shooter

Computer programmer

DO Top Commenter.

James080
James080

You are indeed a very strange specimen yourself. Perhaps that explains your misplaced infatuation with the gawky, androgynous, too skinny or too fat teenager with not very good skin and teeth that didn't get fixed -- face green with reflected light, eyes bright, a tiny crooked grin at one corner of the mouth people of the world.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@holmantx 

Scarier yet is the idea that at that time, Frank had no idea of the frightening capabilities that would be developed and implemented at the behest of our very own - of, by and for the people - government.

Scarier even than that, though is the thought that some of your friends and neighbors, and maybe even your own family members are the very folks that are making their livings by developing the very things that will eventually make their own lives subject to such same scrutiny.

Privacy in the modern world is an anachronism, the only anonymity anyone has anymore is that afforded by being an unimportant and well behaved part of the mass, and that's just the way they like it.

DirtyP1
DirtyP1

@everlastingphelps I'll disagree. Hitler had much more drive than these guys. Hitlerland is a pretty good read. Idk, maybe substitute computer games for politics?

breatheasy
breatheasy

@DirtyP1 In total agreement. What no one seems to bring up is that a complete innocent could be thrown in an off-shore prison for "somewhat suspicious" comments made to someone overseas, or an off-color email sent which produced ridiculously horrific unintended consequences. In either case, he/she would have no access to a defense attorney, nor access to family or friends, and possibly find oneself locked up forever without so much as being charged with any crime.

primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

The quote was Lincoln's, the hope was for earth, and it was to be achieved by reuiniting the combantant states. In this writing he described the undivided union as the earth's last best hope.

primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

How dare you tarnish the proud accolade of best commenter. It is the highlight of my résumé, surpassing a season of coaching a girls jr high softball team.

DirtyP1
DirtyP1

@TheCredibleHulk @holmantx This is a great story, from 2008, about two intercept operators that were tasked with listening to signal intercepts in the Middle East. http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/exclusive-inside-account-us-eavesdropping-americans/story?id=5987804

Once again, 2008. Most of the calls they listened to were just calls from Americans to their spouses or family members, and the calls were cataloged, especially the ones that had pillow talk(phone sex) or were interesting; passed around like we share youtube clips. Our national surveillance program....violating the rights of 300 million Americans to so far have caught 300 nameless terrorists? You don't catch the "smart" ones as easily, look how long it took and the manpower to find Bin Laden. 

ruddski
ruddski

Social Media in Hittler's time was called "conversation"

gregmarcydagama
gregmarcydagama

He has has no point other than misdirecting obfuscation. He rarely speaks to an issues specifics; rather, he chooses to poke at it like a cat with a mouse not interested in food, just torment. ;)

MikeWestEast
MikeWestEast

Another one of life's failures: not a complete loser in high school like Mr. Manning, he then managed to stitch together mediocrity in college, failed business, legal judgements of fraud, more disorderly incidents while in the Army, abuse of alcohol and then murdering 17 unarmed villagers. At least Mr. Manning did not kill anyone directly. It is another example of why the theme of this article has no merit. Lots of people fail and go on to succeed. The difference is they fail with a purpose, moving from challenge to challenge, until they do succeed. People like these two just get knocked around wondering why their lives suck and eventually do something stupid and criminal. They can't save themselves, never mind the rest of us.

ruddski
ruddski

That was in answer to the question, not a call for audience.

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