In Response to: Talking to Snowden

PAW’s breezy piece on the videolink star-turn of a smiling Edward Snowden before a “packed Friend Center auditorium and two overflow rooms” in early May (On the Campus, June 3) invites comparison with the University’s very different reaction to Alger Hiss’ appearance on campus in the spring of 1956. 

Hiss had been convicted of perjury about his involvement in espionage for the Soviet Union. The very idea that he would be given a podium at Princeton was anathema to many alumni, who withheld Annual Giving. Father Hugh Halton called the University a center of “moral and political subversion.” Little toy pumpkins appeared on campus, to remind us of Whittaker Chambers. National media (and The Harvard Crimson) had a field day with the story. President Harold Dodds *14 was strongly critical of Whig-Clio for having the bad judgment to invite Hiss and made known his own “contempt” for the man. 

Snowden, on the other hand, apparently was greeted with virtual palm leaves and huzzahs, uncritically, like a hero, without a peep from Nassau Hall. 

This is not the Messiah. This is a man who deliberately and systematically violated his oath and released hundreds of thousands of pages of super-sensitive, highly classified national-security information. Yes, he started an important national debate that needs to happen, but he is also a fugitive from justice, hiding in Russia to avoid arrest, extradition, trial, conviction, and prison. Was none of those enthusiastic students disturbed enough by Snowden’s bland, smiling, big-screen presence — or by the support of others who may have aided and abetted his unlawful acts — to protest just a little?

James Robertson ’59