Is America really all that bad? Yes, America spies. Yes, America is sometimes a bully economically and militarily. Yes, America gets involved in shit we really have no business getting involved in. None of that is deniable, but having the largest single economy and the largest single military comes with certain responsibilities and expectations. Perhaps we shouldn't be the largest, but the idea of living in a world where China is unmatched is not exactly comforting.
We do a lot of bad shit, no doubt, but we also have a few things going for us. Freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of the press are sacrosanct. We do still have something approaching due process though it definitely needs strengthening (and it needed strengthening long before now, but "Stop-and-Frisk," "Driving While Black," the prison industrial complex, and run of the mill police brutality and overreach don't seem to rile the media or liberals with anything approaching the intensity of the idea that the NSA has the capability to read your email, even if they don't actually do that). The vast majority of us have the ability to make a living and have a fairly high standard of living, in spite of our healthcare and economic challenges.
I just don't buy the idea that the USA is The Great Satan. I think of the US as a place that is on a steady march toward equality. We eventually overcome the worst of our impulses through a lot of struggle, but we do overcome them. Our system of government means that we have to struggle a lot to get even one step forward, but that need to struggle also means a level of stability that has maintained the republic through a great deal of unrest.
This Snowden saga has been very interesting and instructive to me. I've never seen the axiom "don't trust everything you read" to be so clearly illustrated. So many in the media are motivated to paint as negative a picture of the US government as they can, without regard to the facts or getting the full story. Just recently, Sharyl Atkinson of CBS had her computer hacked. CBS ran a story about it and clearly implied that the government had hacked her computer without any evidence of that having been the case. CNET wrote an article plainly stating that a US Congressman had confirmed that thousands of NSA analysts read our emails; they only barely walked it back after it became clear that was not the case. Greenwald and The Guardian had to walk back some claims about the PRISM program. Many people in the mainstream media responded with righteous indignation to learn that— shocker— the Justice Dept. investigates felonious leaks.
Snowden has released information about the US spying, and people behave like spying is some new phenomenon, as if the US is the only country to ever spy. Previous and subsequent stories about Canada, UK, France, Russia, China, and Germany spying were met with shrugs, but it is THE WORST THING IN THE WORLD that the US spies for some reason.
Have you ever wondered why Putin is not willing to give Snowden asylum? Why Putin demanded Snowden STOP revealing secrets for him to even consider his application? It's because Russia and the US probably share more intelligence than they'd be comfortable revealing. Remember, the first intelligence about the Boston bombers came from Russia, years before they were planning the bombing. The US's anti-terrorism programs benefit Russia, and theirs benefits us. We're not the only ones spying, and believe it or not, we and they might actually be using the information responsibly.
So, these are my thoughts, as random as they are (please forgive me). You think we're terrible. What are you going to do about that? What is the practical effect of learning that the US spies? Are you really going to demand that the US not conduct spying operations? Is that really a good idea?