“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will submit to, and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.” 

—Frederick Douglass

What an indictment of America that one of her greatest modern-day heroes for liberty – Edward Snowden – is forced to raise his children in Moscow as Russian citizens. Indeed, speak with too much candor about the abuses of the United States government, and one is almost certain to be deemed “un-American,” if not a traitor to be exiled or hanged.  

Take your liberty too seriously, and you can always expect much official acrimony, harrumphing, and even outright blood-lust from tyrants and their wooden-tongued, idiot followers. Act too freely in the supposedly “free world,” and one is almost guaranteed to be accused of treason by U.S. government thugs and devils whose fealty to their system of practical lies has rendered them suspicious and fearful of any true expressions of American liberty.  

To resist tyranny has never been and never will be easy. Such an action requires courage, conviction, and a willingness to actively withdraw one’s consent while unremorsefully breaking unjust laws at risk of unjust punishment; it is a cruel, unusual, and perilous task to resist tyrants and often entails the sacrifice of family, friends, coworkers and the freedom to live in one’s own country.  

Yet, the crucible of tyranny often produces clarion calls for liberty that have a way of transcending the time and space of any given tyrant’s iron rule. Martyrs suffer so that others may someday live in the light and warmth of their hard-won conscience and example. 

Such has been true throughout human history, and such continues to this day displayed in the life of Snowden. 

As Snowden revealed in 2013, the U.S. intelligence community — operating in the extralegal, unconstitutional shadows of the intelligence agencies — is the world’s largest purveyor of personal information in the name of “security.” The public has now confirmed what they long suspected to be true: the National Security Agency has built an “architecture of oppression” that is being used for the transnational collection of free communications of innately free people. 

Such revelations aren’t without a cost. 

In a 2013 letter from Snowden to the country Brazil, the whistleblower writes: 

“My act of conscience began with a statement: ‘I don’t want to live in a world where everything that I say, everything I do, everyone I talk to, every expression of creativity or love or friendship is recorded. That’s not something I’m willing to support, it’s not something I’m willing to build, and it’s not something I’m willing to live under.’ 

Days later, I was told my government had made me stateless and wanted to imprison me. The price for my speech was my passport, but I would pay it again: I will not be the one to ignore criminality for the sake of political comfort. I would rather be without a state than without a voice.”

The statement, “I would rather be without a state than without a voice,” will go down in history as a shining example of civil disobedience and intrepid American courage — a reminder of man’s innate liberty to speak boldly no matter the threatening scowls and spittle on the faces of the powerful. 

Ten years after blowing the whistle on the American government’s illegal mass surveillance regime, Snowden still says, “I have no regrets,” though he also warns, “If we think about what we saw in 2013 and the capabilities of governments today, 2013 seems like child’s play.” 

Snowden applied for Russian citizenship in 2020, though he did not renounce his American citizenship. Now, seemingly stuck in Russia in perpetuity, Snowden says, “It is not my choice to be in Russia. I'm constantly criticizing the Russian government's policy, the Russian government's human rights record - even the Russian president by name."  

“After years of separation from our parents, my wife and I have no desire to be separated from our son. That’s why, in this era of pandemics and closed borders, we’re applying for dual US-Russian citizenship,” Snowden wrote on Twitter/X in November 2020, “Lindsay and I will remain Americans, raising our son with all the values of the America we love — including the freedom to speak his mind. And I look forward to the day I can return to the States, so the whole family can be reunited. Our greatest wish is that, wherever our son lives, he feels at home.” 

Many Americans today seem all too eager to submit to the demands of the American ruling elite no matter how unjust their impositions or absurd their shifting rationales for tyranny and exploitation.  

Indeed, it is a tragically unsurprising reflection of the United States today that an American hero who gave one of the most courageous displays of resistance to tyranny in recent memory is no longer welcome in America but must live the rest of his days as a Russian citizen in Moscow.

Joey Clark is a native Alabamian and is currently the host of the radio program News and Views on News Talk 93.1 FM WACV out of Montgomery, AL M-F 12 p.m. - 3 p.m. His column appears every Tuesday in 1819 News. To contact Joey for media or speaking appearances as well as any feedback, please email [email protected]. Follow him on X @TheJoeyClark or watch the radio show livestream.

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to [email protected]

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