Authoritarian apologetics.

Was anybody missing Louise Mensch’s regular contributions to our public life before her reappearance on Newsnight yesterday? I didn’t think so. Talk about a timely reminder of why we’re better off without her. First, the lies. Appelbaum called her out on this immediately, but it’s worth emphasising that Snowden did not go ‘straight to’ the Chinese Morning Post. His first act upon acquiring the classified documents was to contact and work with Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald. Second, Greenwald did not vow ‘revenge’. He said the British government’s actions would not deter him from continuing with his work.

But it’s not just the lies here that are so pernicious. It’s the way Mensch’s entire way of linguistically characterising the Snowden saga is laced with the implication that the American and British governments should be trying to impede the reporting of everything we have recently learnt. She suggests that the journalistic activity of airing previously secret and shocking information about the overreach of the American National Security Agency is to be legitimately blocked by virtue of its being complicit in ‘abetting the enemy’, and relying on the theft of classified documents.

It’s a cliché by now to note how a democracy is descending into the conditions faced in Russia, but when a previous and apparently respected Member of Parliament can talk this carelessly, and seemingly sincerely believe what she says, how different really is our political class to the foreign thugs in power that they hypocritically chastise?


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