Oct 14, 2015 ยท 2 minutes

Edward Snowden has a PR problem.

With international condemnation of Russia continuing to mount, this isn’t the ideal time to be an American whistleblower, sitting in Moscow under FSB protection, hurling insults at your own side.

Little wonder, then, that Snowden recently joined Twitter, where he has been working hard to remind us all of his hero status, and to ally himself with as many popular causes as he can find.

Last week, he came out in support of Matthew Keys, who he claimed was “facing” 25 years in prison for helping hackers deface the LA Times website. To underscore his point, Snowden used the hashtag “#PrisonPolicy.”  Sadly Twitter’s 140 character limit prevented him from making any comment on Russia’s use of prison, or even murder, to deter free speech.

This week, Snowden – currently living in a country where, according to Amnesty International, "violent racism is out of control" – is hitching his wagon to the Black Lives Matter campaign.

“Black Lives Matter activists have a new ally: Edward Snowden,” proclaimed the headline on Quartz yesterday. And it’s true:  In a twitter conversation with BLM activist, DeRay Mckesson, Snowden wrote:

@deray Minority leaders disproportionately targeted by surveillance long before Hoover wiretapped MLK. How can we highlight the danger?

To which, Mckesson responded... 

@Snowden, would you be down to have a public talk re: intersections b/t surveillance & state violence w/ me if we can figure out logistics?

Replied Snowden: “I’m down. Let’s make it happen.”

The exchange came after Snowden tweeted “If you want to protect your rights, you've got to protect the rights of others. Social justice is common sense.”

You can doubt Snowden’s motives, and highlight the screaming hypocrisy of his choice of home, but it’s hard to argue with that message. It’s all well and good to complain about the NSA routinely monitoring TOR developers, or lawmakers trying to criminalise the use of encryption. But your outrage is meaningless – or at least hypocritical and self-serving – unless you’re equally opposed to the profiling and surveillance routinely used against other members of society. Profiling is profiling, no matter the victim and no matter the perpetrator.  

With almost 1.5m followers on Twitter, Snowden’s message will hopefully strike a chord amongst the privacy activists and anti-government protesters who comprise his base. Because, God knows, some of them could benefit from hearing it.  

People like, say, the privacy activist who, back in 2009, reportedly complained in Ars Technica’s comments section of the fear he felt driving through London’s majority muslim neighborhoods:

"It's where all of your Muslims live. I didn't want to get out of the car... I mean it wasn't like, ‘Hi, we're your friendly neighborhood Muslim community. welcome to our main street… It was more like, ‘SUBMIT TO THE WILL OF ALLAH. SHARIAH REGULATIONS POSTED AT ALL CORNERS.’”

The author of that breathtakingly racist quote?

Take a bow, Comrade Snowden.