Ignore what Edward Snowden has shown the world.
Really. Ignore that the National Security Agency has court-approved access to the records of every single call made by Verizon, AT&T and Sprint customers in the U.S., along with the ability to obtain records of online activity from both American citizens and foreign nationals.
You can ignore this dragnet operation because you’re a Democrat, and during a Democratic presidency this program can’t be wrong. You voted for Obama less than a year ago, a suave champion of social liberalism and universal healthcare running against every Republican’s second choice. Barack is your guy. There’s no way he would let the NSA do this without putting adequate safeguards in place — it’s not like it took four years for him to publicly acknowledge that four U.S. citizens have been killed by drones. And even putting that aside, aren’t his critics on this issue just a bunch of dumb Republicans looking to score some political points?
You could also ignore it because it’s so sensational. Right now the NSA itself admits it only gives close scrutiny to fewer than 300 phone numbers, and that it has nowhere near enough staff members to look at each and every piece of data PRISM makes available to them. So there’s absolutely nothing to worry about. Further, the notion that some government agent has the ability to watch these words form as they’re being typed — as Snowden has suggested — is ridiculous and should invalidate everything else he has said. The man is a sociopath who has hit the jackpot thanks to some guy named Glenn Greenwald, who is obviously playing this whole situation for attention. Besides, it’s not like he’s a reputable journalist working for a respected newspaper.
Even better, ignore it because this leaker is a traitor in the eyes of so many government officials, members of Congress and at least one neoconservative, shotgun-wielding former vice president. The NSA says that over 50 terror plots were stopped thanks to these programs, and let’s face it — the only conceivable way these plots could have been stopped was through monitoring virtually every American with a cell phone or Internet presence. And that’s only half of the story — he also fled to Hong Kong right after the leak went public. That can only mean he’s a Chinese spy. He deserves whatever our government throws at him over there. Perhaps a drone strike is in order?
Best of all, ignore that NSA officials have your call records tucked away and the ability to seize your online data without your knowledge because you have “nothing to hide.” Your life is going so well. You’re working at a place that will bring you one step closer to that career you’ve been dreaming of, and you don’t have time to worry about all this junk. You’re a good person — you keep yourself in shape, follow the Golden Rule and have no prejudices based on race or sexual orientation. Your browser history is just an endless scroll through social networks, Bleacher Report and CNN, with nothing but memes and other material irrelevant to the NSA in between. The rest of your computer is clean of pirated media, videos of extremists preaching their gospel, flag-burning pictures, child pornography, et cetera. You just don’t fit the profile for government surveillance. To hell with civil responsibility — your innocence justifies your ignorance.
We students can all carry on with our lives just as if Snowden never existed. Not only are the NSA’s programs completely warranted because they’re supposed to catch terrorists, but their privacy-eroding methods are also nothing to worry about because we’re such good people. We can worry about our privacy when the NSA has somehow inferred guilt out of a lifetime of innocence — and that’s something our children or grandchildren are more likely to have to worry about than us. When that happens, all it will take is the accused person’s word to make those NSA agents see the error of their ways. Life is fair like that.
Come to think of it, the NSA could probably catch even more terrorists if they had more people.
Wait — they’re hiring? Where do I sign up?
Eric Ferguson can be reached at email@example.com.