Heralding him as the “Columbus of the Digital Age,” faculty at a German university have voted to award NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden an honorary doctorate.
The decision was reached Wednesday by the faculty of arts at the nearly 600-year-old University of Rostock. Twenty professors voted in favor of the honor, with one against and one abstention, reports the German newspaper Die Welt.
In making their decision, educators called the degree a symbolic and political act, citing Snowden’s “moral courage” and “substantial contribution to a new global discourse on freedom, democracy, and the rights of the individual in a globally networked digital world,” the paper reports.
Through his lawyers, Snowden has told Rostock scholars he will gladly accept the honor, and there are logistical plans in the works for him to receive it through some sort of unorthodox ceremony, since it is believed that he currently remains exiled in Russia.
The decision can be halted by the university’s rector, but it remains to be seen whether that will happen.
Wednesday’s vote was more than a half-year in the making, as the faculty had first voted to approve a resolution calling for the honor last fall.
In a four-page resolution, scholars praised Snowden as one of the “great examples of civil disobedience in the history of modern civil society,” alongside Ghandi, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela. Snowden carries on the “very democratic tradition of civil disobedience,” the resolution states.
In June 2013, Snowden disclosed to the media massive amounts of information about National Security Agency programs that track and analyze Americans’ every move, including cell phone calls and locations, emails, personal Internet activity and social media posts.
Citing Henry David Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience,” the German scholars said for the democratic rule of law to work, civil disobedience remains a necessary function, and called Snowden’s decision to become a whistleblower “courageous.”
“The Snowden-NSA affair is not about … the interception of (personal data), but the ratio of protected privacy and state control,” the resolution states. “It’s about the tension between power and law. …. It’s about the relationship between democracy and totalitarianism.”
Jennifer Kabbany is associate editor of The College Fix. ( @JenniferKabbany )
h/t: AP via Michael Savage
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