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Why No One Would Listen

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Posted on Mar 7, 2012
nataliej (CC-BY)

By Eyal Press, TomDispatch

(Page 3)

Later, after the facts had come to light, Wydler testified at a Congressional hearing in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, before an audience full of defrauded investors.  She received a standing ovation.  The belated recognition felt nice, she told me, but it would have felt a lot better if more people had listened to her beforehand, and maybe even stood by her side.

If we really want to honor people like Wydler, we ought to make sure that financial industry whistleblowers who emulate her example in the future don’t have to languish in isolation or wait so long for the applause, and that, unlike Eileen Foster, Harry Markopolos, and Leyla Wydler, they will be spared the silent treatment.

Eyal Press is the author of the new book “Beautiful Souls: Saying No, Breaking Ranks and Heeding the Voice of Conscience in Dark Times” (Farrar, Straus & Giroux).  To listen to Timothy MacBain’s latest Tomcast audio interview in which Press discusses the treatment of American whistleblowers, click here, or download it to your iPod here.  Follow Eyal Press on Twitter @EyalPress.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter @TomDispatch and join us on Facebook.

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By gerard, March 7, 2012 at 2:39 pm Link to this comment

... and when whistle-blowers can’t be ignored or squelched, they are arrested, tried using trumped-up accusations of offense against “sacred” values like patriotism, and punished with everything from a slap on the wrist to the death penalty—whatever public ignorance will support.
  One problem with whistle-blowing is that it tends to trigger the negative emotions associated with “snitching”—an association which degrades whistle-blowing by burying the conscious awareness of its real purpose.
  In cases like Manning and Assange, the true purpose of the cable releases was very specifically patriotic—that is, to let Americans others know that contemporary secret diplomacy and war are dishonest and disastrous, and that this fact had to be outed by massive and incontrovertible evidence so citizens could demand more honesty in international relations.
  People who are naive, or prefer not to know ugly truths, plus people who don’t see that exposure brings with it the opportunity for self-correction and reform—such people interpret such acts as “snitching” and turn away from truth, to side with government as victim rather than with the populace as victimized by government secrecy.
  Sad proof of this is citizens’ general tendency to permit unnecessary secret surveillance of their own everyday activities in the name of “national security” even though such surveillance destroys national security by breeding suspicion, disunity, and contention.

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