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For me, Stalinism was even a greater philosophical problem than Nazism. Under Nazism, if you were a Jew, you were simply killed, no questions asked, you had nothing to prove. Under Stalinism, of course, most [victims] were on trial for false accusations; most of them were not traitors. There is one interesting feature: that they were tortured or through some kind of blackmail forced to confess to being traitors.
Snowden is not the disease. We don’t have traitors or whistleblowers blooming all over because they are some sort of malady. The disease is war. We’ve been at war now and with no end in sight for over a dozen years, the longest in our history. War breeds tyranny. War breeds people who want to prosecute and persecute those who reveal that tyranny. So what we have is the government becoming more draconian – clearly understandable. It always does in a period of war. And as it becomes more draconian, more and more whistleblowers coming.
Then his eyes focus on something over my shoulder, and he starts walking. I turn to see Uriah jogging from the elevator bank. He is grinning. Heard a rumor you were a dirty traitor, Uriah says. Yeah, whatever, says Zeke. They collide in an embrace that looks almost painful to me, slapping each other’s backs and laughing with their fists clasped between them.
I was doing a terrible thing in using the very books you clung to, to rebut you on every hand, on every point! What traitors books can be! You think they’re backing you up, and then they turn on you. Others can use them, too, and there you are, lost in the middle of the moor, in a great welter of nouns and verbs and adjectives.
Curiously, the righteous Pharisees had little historical impact, save for a brief time in a remote corner of the Roman Empire. But Jesus’ disciples – an ornery, undependable, and hopelessly flawed group of men – became drunk with the power of a gospel that offered free forgiveness to the worst sinners and traitors. Those men managed to change the world.
I think the most tortured place in hell should be reserved not for traitors, but… for cowards. The weakest, most spineless losers. Because it seems to me that traitors? At least they made a choice. But cowards? They just run around biting their fingernails, totally afraid to do anything. Which is totally worse.