Edward Snowden

Libertarian Students Honor Their Chosen Hero, Edward Snowden

International Students for Liberty Conference proves spread of libertarian ideas among millennials.

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Edward Snowden
Reason

There are no heroes, only heroic actions. That's what NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden told a cheering crowd of more than 1,000 libertarian students at the International Students for Liberty Conference in Washington, D.C. this weekend. Thanks to the magic of modern technology, Snowden was able to accept his award via video feed, and answered questions from ISFL President Alexander McCobin.

Snowden's statement carried deep irony, given that the room universally and undeniably disagreed with him—he was their hero. While many students were also delighted to hear from Rand and Ron Paul, Justin Amash, John Stossel, Andrew Napolitano, and a host of other libertarian celebrities over the course of the weekend, Snowden was the main draw. He received standing ovation after standing ovation for his encouraging words about the importance of reining in government surveillance run amok.

That fact will not be surprising to anyone who has spent serious time at college campuses, talking to students, surveying their general sentiments about culture and politics. A libertarian lightning bolt has struck the under-30 crowd. The result has not been instant-conversion but a slow, general embrace of the idea that the government cannot be trusted to run our lives.

As I* watched Snowden speak—ISFL displayed him on two gigantic telescreens, to awe-inspiring effect—I couldn't help but recall The Washington Free Beacon's recent half-hearted hit-piece on Marianne Copenhaver, a Rand Paul staffer who believes Snowden deserved the Nobel Peace Prize. The Free Beacon, a conservative outlet, found this opinion so blatantly extreme that it wasn't even necessary for writer Alana Goodman to explain why. Anyone who embraces Snowden is instantly dismissible, Goodman implied, and could never work for a plausible Republican Party presidential candidate.

Young people play an important role in campaigns. They do the canvassing and the tabling. They put in long hours for little pay doing the actual, physical labor involved in organizing a candidacy. Indeed, Sen. Barack Obama's youth appeal was something of a trump card in his election—not merely because young people voted for him in droves (though they did), but also because they mounted a herculean organizing effort on his behalf, knocking on doors, registering people to vote, showing up to rallies, etc. etc. Since the work is hard and all-consuming—and the pay quite bad—these kids have to actually really like the guy they are trying to elect in order for the effort to be worth it.

Perhaps neoconservatives are right, and a candidate whose staff includes Snowden-loving millennials is too far out there to ever win the Republican nomination, let alone the presidency. But if that's true, I'm left wondering who a traditional Snowden-denouncing candidate could possibly count on to work for him. Are there great numbers of students somewhere eager to see Snowden hanged? Who support the NSA and the abridgment of privacy and liberty? Who are eager for more wars?

I doubt that such students, if they exist at all, are numerous and politically interested enough to put together a conference on the coldest weekend of winter that produces anywhere near the level of attendance, excitement, and general excellence that ISFLC did. Such a conference would probably be overtaken by libertarian students organizing against the Snowden bashers, anyway.

He is their hero, after all.

More dispatches from the ISFL conference here.

*Disclaimer: I spoke at the conference, as did several other Reason staffers. I have also participated in many previous ISFL events. Reason is a "Silver Level" sponsor of the conference.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

93 responses to “Libertarian Students Honor Their Chosen Hero, Edward Snowden

  1. OT: Oh, those wacky Brits…

    http://www.opposingviews.com/i…..ace-jail-t

    A woman who was tortured and beaten by her ex-fiance for hours in front of her children could face jail time if she refuses to write him letters in prison updating him on the progress of their children.

    Natalie Allman, 29, was ordered by a judge to update her ex on their children regularly, and would be held in contempt of court if she refuses to do so.

    1. Geez. Given the circumstances, you’d think they’d let her off with keeping him as a Facebook friend.

      1. She was allowed to keep her kids despite having failed to protect them from witnessing his abuse. Sauron has been magnanimous enough.

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  2. Are there great numbers of students somewhere eager to see Snowden hanged? Who support the NSA and the abridgment of privacy and liberty? Who are eager for more wars?

    Did you also channel your inner Napolitano when speaking at the conference?

    Reason is a “Silver Level” sponsor of the conference.

    Cheapskates.

    1. Liberty is priceless but, hey, a dollar’s a dollar!

  3. You Know Who Else had Youth Appeal?

    1. New Kids On The Block?

  4. International Students for Liberty Conference proves spread of libertarian ideas among millennials.

    more than 1,000

    Uh Huh.

    1. A thousand millennials is *counts on fingers*, um like, a million, right?

  5. Snowden conspired in Putin agitprop aimed against the United States.

    Putin.

    Snowden can burn for all I care. He is no hero.

    1. I’m sure Snowden is impressed with the opinion of some jingoist cretin.

      1. “Jingoist.” Yeah.

        Putin’s a man of DEEP commitment to civil liberties, runs his government accordingly, and full-well warranted the assistance of a libertarian hero like Snowden.

        Makes perfect sense.

        1. So you think we would be better off not knowing what Snowden revealed?

          1. What Snowden chose to do to aid and abet Putin and his agitprop has nothing to do with what he revealed. What it DOES have to do with are his likely actual motivations for revealing it in the first place, which probably aren’t exactly libertarian, just as Bradley Manning’s were not.

            So no, being someone who can hold a couple of different concepts in his mind at the same time — information on NSA good; aiding and abetting a thuggish dictator BAD, and arguably treasonous — that’s in fact NOT what I think.

            Complex thought. Give it a shot.

            1. Right he should have come back to US so he could be thrown in jail.

              Fuck that shit. This government is little better than Putin’s. Give it fifty years, and you won’t be able to tell them apart at all.

              America is rotting, and it’s not because of Edward Snowden.

              1. “Right he should have come back to US so he could be thrown in jail.”

                Even on “asylum” in Russia, he still chose, eyes wide open, to aid and abet Putin.

                If you think this government really is “little better than Putin’s,” then you are far too silly to take seriously, especially here. What you spew is not “reason.”

                1. If you think this government really is “little better than Putin’s,” then you are far too silly to take seriously, especially here. What you spew is not “reason.”

                  The government spies on American citizens, holds them without trial, and violates the Constitution on a daily basis.

                  The only reason Putin kills journalists is that they oppose him. American journalists aren’t courageous enough to risk death, and most of them are eagerly on board with the current ruling class’s goals.

                  1. “The only reason Putin kills journalists is that they oppose him.”

                    ONLY, huh? Well heck, that’s OK then.

                    Do you even read what you write?

                    I say again, if think this government is really little better than Putin’s, then you need medical help.

              2. No, he wouldn’t have been thrown in jail, he wouldn’t have lived that long. Russia is the only place he’s somewhat safe.

                1. Oh, right; he would have been *murdered*. Sure.

                  Tell me, do you check under your bed for monsters at night?

              3. The troll quality around here has really deteriorated. PB is bad enough; now we have a neo-fascist in DJ1706.

                1. Oh, let’s see . . .

                  I object to Snowden because he voluntarily aided Putin’s actually-fascist regime, and that somehow makes me a “neo-fascist.”

                  The thought process which leads you to this isn’t exactly the quality one would expect at a place called “Reason,” with the slogan containing “free minds.”

            2. Why do you expect someone who was betrayed by his own country to be loyal?

              I’m no fan of Putin, especially after the downing of that Malaysian airlines flight, I’d like to see him on the end of a noose, at best.

              But I’m sure that Snowden did what he did for the right reasons and he has no place else to go, I knew that from the start. Every other country on earth would turn him over to the USA, and then Captain Murderdrone would have him executed.

              1. “Why do you expect someone who was betrayed by his own country to be loyal?”

                One more time: he CHOSE to assist Putin. He also chose to assist Putin in making it appear that Putin takes civil liberties and privacy matters very seriously in Russia, when Putin most assuredly does not. Snowden knew that. Yet he willingly participated in the lie.

                No one interested in libertarian ideals, and, well, TRUTH, would assist in that.

                You don’t assist someone even worse if you’re standing up for principle.

                I don’t think he was. I think his revelation of NSA secrets was something else entirely. And he can rot for that.

                1. Is that you, Tulpa?

                  1. Oh, what’s the matter?

                    Your argument is this:

                    Snowden is HERO for exposing the US government’s lies. Hero!

                    So what if he PARTICIPATED in a thuggish dictator’s lies? HERO! HERO, I TELL YOU!

                    1. Umm, he was participating in a thugs lies while he was still in the USA, in fact, participating in spying on and violating the rights of all Americans. What say you about that, oh neocon?

                    2. I already said — it’s good that he revealed it.

                      But I don’t think he did so out of principle.

                      Not when he turned around and helped a thuggish dictator construct lies about his own commitment to civil liberties.

                      You’re not much for breaking out of binary thinking patterns, are you? For you, everything must be black and white. Snowden did something you like, therefore he’s completely heroic, and if someone thinks otherwise, they must be evil. I’m either completely with you or I’m completely against you. That’s a sadly limited way to look at the world.

                    3. “I’m either completely with you or I’m completely against you. That’s a sadly limited way to look at the world.”

                      Says the guy who started with:
                      “Snowden can burn for all I care. He is no hero.”

                    4. He’s not. I gave him his due credit, so that’s me not being completely against him. But he’s no hero.

                      Sorry if that bothers you so much. Oh, wait; no, I’m really, really not.

                    5. Hey DJ1706 – to back up your opinions I am curious if you have first-hand experience with feet on the ground in the US, the UK, and Russia?

                      I do. And while I am no fan of Putin or his methods (BY ANY MEANS) I would opine that you are most certainly better off in Russia being on the wrong side of some government cocksucker bent on stealing from you/doing you ill.

                      There, you always have the option of walking into the guy’s office and asking him how much it costs to make the problem disappear. And then he will tell you.

                      This can be done in the US as well (typically involving the correct contributions to the correct PACs), but you likely don’t know how to do it. And in asking how to do it you are potentially on for 800 counts of bribery, obstruction of justice, or whatever else the thugs want to charge you with.

                    6. @Super Kevin Horlock

                      Even taken as 100% true, none of that has anything to do with what I said.

                      “The US is worse!” is not an excuse for Snowden participating in Putin’s lies. Not if he’s to be a libertarian hero.

            3. This. Snowden is no hero. He probably was guided to do what he did by either the Russians or Chinese, two authoritarian states.

              And of course Putin is his benefactor now and he uses Snowden like the useful idiot he is.

              1. That’s what it looks like to me.

                1. Maybe Snowden is “helping” Putin because he knows that everyone already knows that Putin’s government is totally opaque and full of shit anyway, so it doesn’t really matter. Maybe he is loyal to American citizens and not the Russian ones who allow Putin to have power, so he is just doing what he has to do to get by as a last “fuck you” to the U.S. government. He’s done his work, and his life sucks now.

                  1. There are no scare quotes around “helping.” He did it, full stop.

                    It was his Jane Fonda moment.

        2. DJ1706|2.15.15 @ 4:22PM|#
          “”Jingoist.” Yeah.
          Putin’s a man of DEEP commitment to civil liberties, runs his government accordingly, and full-well warranted the assistance of a libertarian hero like Snowden.
          Makes perfect sense.”

          ‘Scuse me; I left out ignoramus.
          BEAT that straw man!

          1. Which “straw man”?

            Do you even know what that means?

        3. Hmmmm, let me see if I understand you correctly.

          When the US Government made sure that every other option for Snowden short of waterboarding was eliminated, his acceptance of exile in Moscow is evidence that he is now and always has been a fan of the Russian Government in general and Putin in particular.

          Of course, he tried nearly everywhere else first until the US Government cranked the screws on the alternatives. (Including forcing a plane going to Latin America to the ground because they thought he might be aboard).

          Yeah, you are an idiot.

          1. None of that required him to participate in Putin’s secrets and lies.

            Never said he had “always been fan”; that’s something you made up.

            So no, you don’t understand me correctly. But that didn’t stop you from plowing forward anyway, so I’d say that makes YOU the “idiot.”

  6. First of all, there are no millenial libertarians. It’s almost as funny as claiming that there are female libertarians, or dare I say, non-white libertarians, too funny!

    Edward Snowden told a cheering crowd of more than 1,000 libertarian students at the International Students for Liberty Conference in Washington, D.C. this weekend. Thanks to the magic of modern technology, Snowden was able to accept his award via video feed, and answered questions from ISFL President Alexander McCobin.

    Don’t worry, King Obama is going to fix this with his brand shiny new 320 page ‘Internet Freedom’ fix.

    1. Last time I checked, I was both a chick and a libertarian. Trust me, we’re around, but usually high, so…

      That said, Snowden is Jesus II. Can’t wait to see CitizenFour win the Oscar.

      1. I made a silly error in math yesterday on another site. When it was pointed out, I had to facepalm and apologize for derping up my percentages. If it had happened here, though, at least I could have accurately stated I was high as hell at the time and gotten some sage, knowing nods with my portion of deserved shame.

        That’s always nice.

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    3. yup im a teenage milennial, most of my peers are total leftists

    4. Hyperion, you’re promoting made-up nonsense.

      Folks, see: http://www.libertarianinternat…..ian-woman-

  7. If Snowden is their hero, that makes Obama a villain, right?

    1. That would be racist.

  8. You’re not much for breaking out of binary thinking patterns, are you? For you, everything must be black and white.

    Talking to yourself?

    1. That doesn’t even make sense. I’m making the statement “sure, he revealed shenanigans, and that’s to the good, but then he purposely helped a thuggish dictator with HIS shenanigans, and that totally sucks. Therefore, I don’t think his motivation was libertarian at all.”

      Everyone else is saying “He’s a HERO!!!! DAMMIT!!! A HERO!!!! WHO CARES ABOUT ANYTHING ELSE HE DID?? HE’S A HERO!!!”

      And you think I’m the one having trouble with complex thought?

      Yeeeeeah.

      1. Everyone else is saying “He’s a HERO!!!! DAMMIT!!! A HERO!!!! WHO CARES ABOUT ANYTHING ELSE HE DID?? HE’S A HERO!!!”

        very few people are saying that, actually. There was a lot of debate about Eddie when this story broke – some saw a hero, others a traitor, many in between and mostly pissed about their own country doing what our leaders wagged their fingers at others for doing.

        What he did with/for Putin is irrelevant. Exposing the NSA, however, pretty damn relevant as domestic politics are something individuals can affect. We can’t do anything about Putin beyond a proxy vote based on who is elected domestically.

        1. “very few people are saying that, actually. ”

          Yeah? See above.

          See the cheering alluded to in this article.

          “What he did with/for Putin is irrelevant. ”

          It certainly is not. It speaks to his actual motivations. No one commited to libertarian ideals — as he is claimed to be, and as he should be if he is a “hero” — would choose to help Vladimir Putin construct the ridiculous lie that Russia has a commitment to civil liberties and privacy.

          1. See the cheering alluded to in this article.

            unless those who attended are those commenting, more irrelevance. This place was full of Snowden articles when this first occurred. The prevailing sentiment was being pissed at the govt.

            As to Putin, imagine being in a position where you believe yourself safer in his Russia than in your US. Putin’s a bad guy, no doubt, but this line of argument makes you sound a bit like Obama using the Crusades as a moral equivalence regarding modern-day Islamic killers.

            1. “unless those who attended are those commenting, more irrelevance.”

              Who cares what “this place” had before now? I was referring specifically to people in these comments, above.

              “As to Putin, imagine being in a position where you believe yourself safer in his Russia than in your US. Putin’s a bad guy, no doubt, but this line of argument makes you sound a bit like Obama using the Crusades as a moral equivalence regarding modern-day Islamic killers.”

              That’s completely and utterly preposterous.

              This isn’t arguing about what some other people did long ago.

              This is about what Edward Snowden, supposed libertarian hero, chose to do after he revealed NSA secrets.

              He chose to aid an abet a thuggish dictator’s lies, thus assisting in the exact kinds of lies he’s being praised for revealing, only worse.

              So it sure looks to me like, you, too, are arguing that’s he’s a hero, and so what if he helped a thuggish dictator, he’s a hero.

              I guess you don’t actually have to go too far to find the behavior I described. Just check yourself out.

              1. It is the duty of libertarians to keep the secrets of an illegitimate government?

                You can do better than that, tulpa.

                1. “It is the duty of libertarians to keep the secrets of an illegitimate government?”

                  Indeed it is not. Thus, Snowden, in helping Putin’s secrets and lies, is no libertarian.

                  By the way, if the US government is “illegitimate,” when can I expect to see your revolt? Soon?

                  Is the duty of a libertarian to sit idly by and aid an illegitimate government by inaction, and continue paying taxes to it?

                  1. DJ1706|2.15.15 @ 6:59PM|#
                    …”Thus, Snowden, in helping Putin’s secrets and lies, is no libertarian.”
                    And, oh, keeper of libertarian purity, please tell us why.
                    Or, don’t bother. One more piece of shit showing up to explain libertarianism to us.
                    Fuck off, asshole. We’ve heard your whines before.

                    1. In case you hadn’t noticed (and you hadn’t, as reading comprehension has been a problem for you all throughout), I was simply accepting HIS libertarian criterion at face value.

                      I’m not only not sorry my non-acceptance of Snowden as a libertarian hero is causing you problems, I’m enjoying it. Please feed me more of your delicious, unthinking anger.

              2. the people in the comments today were many in the comments then: some saw hero, others not, and most thought the govt spying on us was fucked up and cheered for that being brought into the light.

                That Snowden left the country was no shock; what, you think he would have gotten some high-dollar lawyer and fairness and the rest? Hardly. So he went to a place where he could expect safety, and maybe agreed to say nice things about Putin in return. Either way, who cares? The villain here is not Putin, it is our govt and its NSA.

                I never said he was hero and I never said he should go to jail, either, not for exposing a program that makes the US look highly hypocritical. But you keep making shit up and ascribing sinister motives to others in order to carry out your narrative.

                1. Yeah, look at the people I was actually arguing with and what they said. That’ll take a little bit of work, but if you dig deep, I’m sure you can handle it.

                  You’re being purposely obtuse.

                  I made nothing up. You apparently don’t even know what Snowden actually did with Putin, and it’s obvious you don’t care. That’s fine, but don’t then pretend to be on the side of truth. If you can’t be bothered to find out what’s what, truth is not your concern.

                  I said what Snowden’s actions suggest to me are his motives, and what are NOT his motives.

                  Putin is indeed a villain. Do you understand that there can more than ONE villain?

                  What exactly do you think my “narrative” is? And when did I say anything about “jail”?

                  1. “What exactly do you think my “narrative” is?”
                    We got your number when you walked in the door; anyone who helps Putin, under any circumstances can “burn in hell”.
                    You’re a simplistic idiot.

                    “And when did I say anything about “jail”?”
                    Who cares?

                    1. “We got your number when you walked in the door; anyone who helps Putin, under any circumstances can “burn in hell”.”

                      Oh, you made up a number and assigned it to me when I walked in the door, then.

                      “Who cares?”

                      Take it up with wareagle; he brought it up.

                    2. DJ1706|2.15.15 @ 9:43PM|#
                      “Oh, you made up a number and assigned it to me when I walked in the door, then.”
                      No, shitstain, you’re as easy to read as the asshole news ‘reporter’. I guess it’s hard to accept what a piece of crap you are.

                      “Who cares?”
                      “Take it up with wareagle; he brought it up.”
                      No, he nowhere suggested you said anything about jail; that was the voices in your head.
                      You should get some help.

                    3. Isn’t it taxing to have to share the world with people who disagree with you? Don’t you wish they would all just go away so that your blood pressure medicine bills would go down?

                      Look, the more you swear at me, the more I’m just going to chuckle, so I don’t know where you think these unhinged tirades are going to get you.

              3. You are dishonest at best and possible just another troll.

                Snowden did everything possible to avoid going to Russia short of letting the US Government waterboard him and stage a show trial.

                Go. To. Hell.

                1. Oh? Point out the “dishonest” things I said.

                  As for “dishonesty,” as you are making claims of your own . . .

                  1) What steps, specifically, did he take to “avoid” going to Russia? You say he did everything possible, so list them all.

                  2) Do you have any evidence he would be “waterboarded”?

                  3) Do you have any evidence he would have been subjected to a “show trial”?

                  I will wait for honest answers to those questions.

                  It does not bother me at all that I somehow bother you.

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  12. And he’s my hero too. I’m 63.

    1. Same here, though I’m a couple years younger.

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