For exposing the Orwellian spying and abuses by the Obama administration, left-leaning and Guardian contributor Glenn Greenwald is now the subject of vicious Alinsky-style attacks by his fellow liberals and leftists in the United States.
In this post, Greenwald, who first reported former NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s disclosure of government surveillance programs, set the record straight about his worldview and political beliefs. He said he’s not a right-wing libertarian.
“Anyone who develops any sort of platform in US political debates becomes a target of hostility and attack. That’s just the nature of politics everywhere. Those attacks often are advanced with falsehoods, fabrications and lies about the person. In general, the point of these falsehoods is to attack and discredit the messenger in lieu of engaging the substance of the critiques.”
In a live interview with NBC TV presenter David Gregory, Greenwald was asked why he should not be charged with a crime for aiding and abetting NSA whistleblower Snowde.
Greenwald replied that it was “pretty extraordinary that anybody who would call themselves a journalist would publicly muse about whether or not other journalists should be charged with felonies,” and that there was no evidence to back up Gregory’s claim that he had “aided” Snowden.
Obviously, Obama’s dogmatic liberal and democrat supporters, like Gregory, are putting high pressure on Greenwald for not towing the liberal line.
According to Alinsky Method, to destroy an enemy, it is important to “keep the pressure on, with different tactics and actions, and utilize all events of the period for your purpose.”
Part of the Alinsky method is also to employ “ridicule” to destroy the target. Saul Alinsky, a notorious Marxist strategist and community organizer, said “it is almost impossible to counteract ridicule. Also it infuriates the opposition, which then reacts to your advantage.”
“There are a series of common lies frequently told about me which I’m addressing here,” Greenwald said.
Greenwald said that some of the vicious lies leveled against him are as follows:
- I work/worked for the Cato Institute
- I’m a right-wing libertarian
- I supported the Iraq War and/or George Bush
- I moved to Brazil to protest US laws on gay marriage
- Because I live in Brazil, I have no “skin in the game” for US politics
- I was sanctioned or otherwise punished for ethical violations in my law practice
Obviously, the purpose of the above-mentioned propaganda is to paint Greenwald as a right-winger.
As to the dishonest charge that he worked for the Cato Institute, a free market think tank in the United States, Greenwald said: “I am not now, nor have I ever been, employed by the Cato Institute. Nor have I ever been affiliated with the Cato Institute in any way. The McCarthyite tone of the denials is appropriate given the McCarthyite nature of the lie.”
“The very suggestion that there is something wrong with writing for or speaking at CATO is inane and childish. The claim that it means I “worked at CATO” is just an obvious lie.”
As to the charge that he’s a right-wing libertarian, the controversial media personality said:
“Ever since I began writing about politics back in 2005, people have tried to apply pretty much every political label to me. It’s almost always a shorthand method to discredit someone without having to engage the substance of their arguments. It’s the classic ad hominem fallacy: you don’t need to listen to or deal with his arguments because he’s an X.
“Back then – when I was writing every day to criticize the Bush administration – Bush followers tried to apply the label “far leftist” to me. Now that I spend most of my energy writing critically about the Obama administration, Obama followers try to claim I’m a “right-wing libertarian”.
“These labels are hard to refute primarily because they’ve become impoverished of any meaning. They’re just mindless slurs used to try to discredit one’s political adversaries. Most of the people who hurl the “libertarian” label at me have no idea what the term even means. Ask anyone who makes this claim to identify the views I’ve expressed – with links and quotes – that constitute libertarianism.”
For this post, however, I use term “left-leaning” to describe Greenwald’s political conviction because of the following admission he made:
* advocating for robust public financing to eliminate the domination by the rich in political campaigns, writing: “corporate influence over our political process is easily one of the top sicknesses afflicting our political culture” (here and here);
* attacking oligarchs – led by the Koch Brothers – for self-pitying complaints about the government and criticizing policies that favor the rich at the expense of ordinary Americans (here);
* arguing in favor of a public option for health care reform (repeatedly);
* using my blog to raise substantial money for the campaigns of Russ Feingold and left-wing/anti-war Democrats Normon Solomon, Franke Wilmer and Cecil Bothwell, and defending Dennis Kucinich from Democratic Party attacks;
* co-founding a new group along with Daniel Ellsberg, Laura Poitras, John Cusack, Xeni Jardin, JP Barlow and others to protect press freedom and independent journalism (see the New York Times report on thishere);
* co-founding and working extensively on a PAC to work with labor unions and liberal advocacy groups to recruit progressive primary challengers to conservative Democratic incumbents (see the New York Times report on this here);
Based on Greenwald’s self-description, I believe the proper term to describe his worldview is “left-leaning” or simply “statist”. However, I agree with Lee Stranahan of Breitbart.com who said Greenwald’s worldview is similar to the “official line of Occupy Wall Street, Code Pink, and others on the anti-war, peace-and-justice movement left”.
“To apply a “right-wing libertarian” label to someone with those views and that activism is patently idiotic. Just ask any actual libertarian whether those views are compatible with being a libertarian. Or just read this October, 2012 post – written on Volokh, a libertarian blog – entitled “Glenn Greenwald, Man of the Left“, which claims I harbor “left-wing views on economic policy” and am “a run-of-the-mill left-winger of the sort who can be heard 24/7 on the likes of Pacifica radio” because of my opposition to cuts in Social Security and Medicare.
There is no doubt that I share many views with actual libertarians, including: opposition to a massive surveillance state, support for marriage equality for LGBT citizens, restraints on government power to imprison or kill people without due process, opposition to the death penalty and the generally oppressive US penal state, contempt for the sadistic and racist drug war, disgust toward corporatism and crony capitalism, and opposition to aggressive wars and the ability of presidents to wage them without Congressional authority. It’s also true that I supported the Citizens United decision on free speech grounds: along with people like the ACLU and Eliot Spitzer (the only politician to put real fear in the heart of Wall Street executives in the last decade and probably the politician most hated by actual libertarians).
Liberals and libertarians share the same views on many issues, particularly involving war, civil liberties, penal policies, and government abuse of power. That is why people like Alan Grayson and Dennis Kucinich worked so closely with Ron Paul to Audit the Fed and restore civil liberties.
But “libertarianism” has an actual meaning: it’s not just a slur to mean: anyone who criticizes President Obama but disagrees with Rush Limbaugh. Anyone who applies this label to me in light of my actual views and work is either very ignorant or very dishonest – or, most likely, both.
I believe Greenwald should have also added that to be a liberal is to advocate Orwellian surveillance programs, abuse of political power and dictatorship.