Just saw this pic directed by Oliver Stone… It’s kind of crazy to imagine a person like Snowden, the kind of endowments, genetic or otherwise, to have the kind of problems he has.
The dramatization kind of flushes out some of the things he was concerned about. I have to say, after all these years, this movie scares me. I mean, I had no idea all these things were really happening. I mean for profit corporations may engage in invasive or pervasive monitoring of employees, but that’s driven by greed for money. That’s totally understandable, we accept it just as much as we accept the evils of our jobs. But the government of the United States of America? The best country in the world, would do this? I still have trouble believing it.
So… Let’s see… So, should we come to understand that American dominance in the world stage in diplomacy, trade, science and technology were made possible by massive spying infrastructure it’s government built? So.. all our believe about democracy and “advanced government” with “checks and balances” all our believe that our prosperity is somehow due to our faith in preservation of basic human rights and liberties is what makes this country great. All that may be validated because we find out that maybe the country is great because it paid for a lot of spying and clandestined manipulations.
But it’s all normal. I think one of the things the movie portrays is Snowdens disgust for uncaring or careless coworkers who treat other human beings like cattles. I empathize with that, a basic human descency, even after 911, and all that, can’t just treat people like a lower life form. Can’t joke about their sufferings carelessly.
I recently had this encounter with JP Morgan Chase, a very large bank of United States. Their operator inadvertently let me in on it when he transferred me to a “the team that handles fraud”. This team asked me to enter into a three way telephone call with my primary bank before initiating a funds transfer.
I asked the rep. what they suspect I was doing. He said that this is standard procedure. I know, as well every other adult in the US, that a whole lot of money gets moved by ACH every day. I have had regular transfers between my other banks for many years. Never ever have I had to conference call two banks to make a small cash transfer, whereby, especially, the requesting party is the bank getting the money. Usually banks are happy to gain deposits.
I state my concern to the fraud rep. I explain that I felt that I was being targeted because I have a Chinese name, a culture or genetic heritage in the minority in America. I explain that in the decades that I’ve transferred money via ACH, I was never required to have a conference call with two banks. And it cannot be normal business practice for Chase because they would go bankrupt if they had to have a conference call for every new ACH transfer.
I then proceed to ask Chase rep. To reciprocate and give me an explanation of why my fund transfer were being held up? I asked or some supporting fact or matter of oncern. He refused, insisting that a conference call is normal practice at Chase.
Now, I know he feel utterly justified and also probably he felt he was well trained for my challenges. But really, that sucked.
The worst part is the feeling that his manager, who was likely listening on the line, probably had his mind racing, what terror could this Huan Chang be funding? Or perhaps this transfer is really an attempt to hide income from IRS? How do we coax him into making a mistake so we can sic the American Secret police on him??
I hated this feeling of someone holding in their brain, a determined thought, that I was a bad actor that I was doing something that needed to be slowed down or stopped or more likely entrapped. In particular, the enraging rethorics about standard practice serves to anger me, giving them probable cause to call the secret police on me or something. I hate the fact that there is a whole multi-generational institutional machination to give naive unsuspecting young minds “training” into doubting and hating me–me! Against my very own person. What did my ancestor do to you when your evil clandestine ancestors were training your mentors? What did my people do you you when your mom and daddy paid for this in their taxes? What did we do ?!
I hated the thought that someone is thinking and working against me, in secret, because they truly believed I was a bad actor. I hated it that they hide behind rules and standard procedures, but really, what I hate that their adrenaline is pumping, and their brain is highly aroused because of these dark thoughts about me. That slur, that joke, that diminutive affirmation “this little punk’s puny Asian ass is all mine,” that really drives me nuts! What did I do to garner this kind of attention?
In the case of Chase, they are a for profit company, and they have their freedom to waste it how they want to.
In the case of the government, the waste of money and computer genius on massive data collection. What about climate change? I can’t imagine how many Google’s they must run to index and link all the connected people… Wouldn’t that hurt the environment? The people deserve to know more.
But! Alas, before you come crashing through my front door with battering rams, batons and laser guns, America is great! Snowden is an American when he did what he did. If the movie is accurate, he did a great thing, an American did a great thing. It is to be celebrated. The American government did not come to a crashing halt when a great fault is discovered. It moved forward and got better. All these things are to be praised and celebrated.
But you who are fuming in your hole of an office about the entirety of my puny Asian punk ass, please stop. I really don’t like it when people think I’m doing something mean or bad. And really, all that scheming to “get Huan” is bad for your health.