The pot calls the kettle black

Updated: 2014-05-22 10:08

By Philip Cunningham (China Daily)

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The pot calls the kettle black

What can you say about the reckless driver of a Hummer who honks his horn incessantly, even to the point of chasing pedestrians crossing at a crosswalk, complaining about others’ bad driving habits? What can you say about a chain smoker who complains about someone else lighting up nearby? Hypocritical! Ridiculous!

“Get out of my way. Don’t do as I do, do as I say,” is the arrogant message that comes through.

The United States is the world leader in electronic spying and infiltration of computers. This makes the US government the world’s biggest hacker, bar none. So it is more than a bit hypocritical, if not borderline humorous, to hear US Attorney General Eric Holder accuse a rival of doing something the US does more extensively, more intrusively and more stealthily.

Were it not for Edward Snowden’s revelations of the National Security Agency’s abuse last year, the average American could continue to enjoy the delusion that the mighty democratic government supported by the sweat and blood of their taxes, and wars on various fronts, was a force for honesty, truth and transparency in a muddied and muddled world. But the uncomfortable truth all Americans have to countenance is this: a nation founded on noble ideals that was once a world leader in the promotion of democracy has become its own nemesis, engaged in endless wars (bullets instead of ballots) and endless spying.

The NSA scoops up an astronomical number of private communications, personal photographs, revealing links to intimate friends, shopping habits, tastes, travel patterns and remote keystroke input every minute of the day, a form of information violation and theft that is easily equivalent in terms of volume and intrusiveness to ripping open every letter ever written in the history of the written word.

This is a shocking development in a country that only recently barred the release of library records on the reasonable assumption that knowing what books a person was reading revealed something private about him/her. Whither America that dared to act as it preached, in accord with its enlightened constitution?

It is hard to see Uncle Sam’s latest finger wagging in the name of cyber supremacy as anything but a reflexive broadside at China, but for what purpose? It’s no slam dunk in diplomatic terms, but rather a gratuitous slap in the face. What is controversial Holder, no friend of civil rights, privacy or government accountability, trying to achieve?

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