“I did this to give the American people the chance to decide the kind of government they want to have,” said Edward Snowden when asked why he leaked top secret NSA documents. John Oliver, who interviewed Snowden on last night’s episode of Last Week Tonight, goes on to point out that the American people may not have responded to the leaks in the way that Snowden hoped.
Oliver complied a scene of interviews asking random Americans if they’ve heard of Edward Snowden. Many say no and others confuse him with the “WikiLeaks guys”. Snowden doesn’t seem too disheartened by this and understands that the technical nature of the leaks may confuse some. Oliver goes on to question Snowden about government surveillance of nude photos, a topic he’s sure Americans will find more interesting than foreign or even other types of domestic surveillance. Unfortunately, he’s not wrong. Further interviews, which granted were chosen by his team to make this statement, show a group of Americans much more concerned with surveillance if it means that the government can easily find any nude photos they may have sent.
It appears that plenty of Americans do have something to hide after all. Perhaps these Americans didn’t know the extent to which the government could watch them or perhaps they just didn’t care until it directly related to their personal photos. Interviewees reject the idea of a program that can see their nude photos, not realizing that pretty much every program leaked by Edward Snowden could do just that.
I find it pretty ridiculous that America doesn’t have the capacity to have this conversation unless it’s directly related to their own nude pictures, but if that’s what it takes to get our citizens involved, then John Oliver used a perfect example. Obviously this is a humorous show attempting to make a joke, but I think it’s evident of a potentially larger problem about the education of Americans. Edward Snowden risked his life to make this information known, but some Americans still have no concept of the potential consequences. Perhaps when a topic comes up that is technical and broad like government surveillance, the media should not only report on it, but better describe it in a way that will lead Americans to both understand and take action.