John Oliver dedicated 30 min of his last night’s HBO program discussing about U.S surveillance programs. Oliver’s approach was reasonable and he initiated a substantive debate as the deadline for revising the Patriot Act, that is, June 1 approaches. Part of this segment was the broadcast of Oliver’s interview with ex-NSA spy Edward Snowden, which he recorded in Moscow.
The show illustrated the fact that in America the debate over U.S surveillance tactics is insufficient since the video footages showing large number of people at Times Square didn’t know a thing about Snowden and whatever little did they know was also incorrect.
Oliver ensured Snowden that there wasn’t any conspiracy involved and the crew didn’t cherry-pick people on-street for conducting the interview but it was just a representative sample.
However, it is not surprising at all that such an overwhelming number of Americans are unaware of Snowden because U.S citizens, by-choice, do not take much interest in political matters. The befuddled responses from interviewees at the Times Square when they were asked about Snowden illustrate a great deal about the deep political disengagement of a hefty chunk of American populace.
The American political apathy data is not just consistent but startling as well since even during presidential election years around 40 to 50 % of the voting-age citizens chose not to participate in the voting process at all and in mid-term elections, two-thirds of voting-age public didn’t vote.
Another startling fact was revealed in September 2014 in an Annenberg Public Policy Center poll. It was identified that 36% Americans only know about three branches of the government whereas just 38% people are aware of the fact that the GOP controls the house. In 2011’s poll, the center found that “just 15 percent of Americans could correctly identify the chief justice of the United States, John Roberts, while 27 percent knew Randy Jackson was a judge on American Idol.”
In another poll conducted by Findlaw.com in 2010 it was revealed that around two-third Americans, that is 65% couldn’t name even one member of the U.S Supreme Court.
A Poll conducted by PEW in 2010 showed that 41% Americans couldn’t name their current vice president.
Thus, it can be said that even Olive had asked the people at Times Square about who Antonin Scalia or Joe Biden is the interviewees would have looked just as stunned and stumped.
These facts are very important and alarming but the issue has received too little discussions, attention and analysis. The most probable reason that the issue has remained subsided and ignored is that it serves as a stinging indictment on the highly glorified political system of America that a huge number of Americans have entirely given up on their state’s political system simply because it hasn’t made any difference in their lives.
Watch this clip to understand how American media approaches towards the serious issue like U.S government spying on its citizens:
Eh? Biber is more important than a U.S senator talking about government surveillance.
NSA and the Dick Pics collection:
After proving his point to Snowden that Americans really don’t care about him or the NSA’s spying program Oliver seemed uninterested in knowing more about the agency’s spying tactics until Snowden framed it in terms of private photos. From there, he went through NSA programs like PRISM and asked Snowden to “explain to me its capabilities in regards to (a) photograph of my penis.”
Snowden’s answers were hilarious and horrifying at once. He described how the NSA can see your private photos, even if they’re sent domestically. Citing PRISM and Google‘s Gmail, for instance, he said, “When your junk was passed by Gmail (to a foreign server), the NSA caught a copy of that.” In the end, however, it was Oliver who gave a Journalism 101 lesson in making complicated things easy to grasp. Snowden said, “I guess I never thought about putting (the NSA leaks) in the context of your junk.”
Watch this interview below: