07 September 2016

The Heroism of the Small Proves to Be Great

Auxilium Christianorum
“Such is of the course of deeds that move the wheels of the world: small hands do them because they must, while the eyes of the great are elsewhere.”

― J.R.R. Tolkien

The National Post has run an in-depth account of the escape of Edward Snowden from Hong Kong-- his first intended place of refuge-- to Russia, where he remains under a grant of temporary asylum.  Snowden apparently has offers of asylum from more than one Central/South American country, but cannot travel out of Russia due to the U.S. revoking his passport.

Of course, the reason why Snowden was on the run in the first place was due to the threat of (at least) arrest or worse from elements in the U.S. government that don't care for their program of unconstitutional surveillance being exposed to the public. Ironically, the threat to life and limb caused by Snowden's act of bravery has elicited mostly yawns from his Snapchatting, video game-playing, porn-watching, government indoctrination schools-graduating fellow citizens. 

The outcome doesn't affect the analysis of the good or bad of the act; we are not utilitarians.

Anyway, the story behind the escape of this man is a very interesting read, and reveals many acts of individual courage as well as some questionable tactics of persuasion.  

Many of the people who hid Snowden in Hong Kong are identified in this story and in the upcoming Oliver Stone movie about the escape. Some knew who Snowden was before, and some only after, agreeing to hide him.  These "little" people deserve more credit than I think we here in the U.S. realize. They live in squalor in Hong Kong's refugee district, the poorest of the poor, as our churchmen love to say. I pray that these poor persons escape being suicided to death long after the public attention dies down.  

And also prominently in the story is the Canadian lawyer who assisted Snowden, not only in applying for refugee status at the U.N., but who also finagled others of his clients to take Snowden in. As a lawyer, I can only say that this tactic, while understandable in the real-world, dangerous, and highly unusual circumstances surrounding Snowden's escape, is fraught with moral and ethical problems. I don't know how he avoids the conclusion of violating his duties to some clients on behalf of others, but maybe there is a difference in that jurisdiction, or facts we don't know that explain the apparent problems away. In either event, I again focus on the bravery of the refugees involved. 

The entire story is here. Very interesting indeed.

The story reminds me of a case in my own experience where a person was forced to negotiate the perils of obtaining relevant documentation for international travel while hiding from known danger, involving political asylum law, the Courts, atypical means of international transport, and violent foreign gang activity. But I can't tell you anything about it, so there.

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