Monday, June 24, 2013

Of spies, traitors and whistleblowers

Those trades are as old as history. Some involved utter violence: what Judith did to Holofernes was a bit more than cosmetic surgery. As was Brutus arguments with his uncle. AudaxDitalcos and Minuros played dirty with Viriatus for the money, although that promted the saying: «Roma traditoribus non praemiat», alas! only upheld by the Romans. Judas kiss involved more than treason. But without him there may not have been Christianity as we know it.

Castilian imperialism has kept the little town where I was born, Zamora, from giving proper recognition to its best-known traitor, Bellido Dolfos. He took advantage of King Sancho of Castille while he was taking a crap in the middle of the bushes and killed him. He tricked the king, who was laying siege to Zamora, with the promise of showing him a way to overtake the walls, while he was actually working for the besieged city.

The list is an unending roster of deeds and men and women who acted against what others thought to be righteous side: Guy Fawkes, The Duchess of Eboli and Antonio Perez, Mata-hari, T.E. Lawrence, “Cicero”, the Catalan Joan Pujol “Garbo”, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, the Cambridge ring (Harold “Kim” Philby, Donald Maclean and Guy Burgess). And “Deep throat· Mark Felt, the upmost whistleblower of Watergate fame.

Julian Assange and Ed Snowden are just the more recent additions to that very long list with the peculiarity of the use of the Internet in their deeds.

I’ve always had a little crush for spies and traitors as I often shared their motives and admire their determination. They are men and women who change history by their acts, something only historians can do. And I keep a snickering mistrust for powers, whatever they may be. No spy or traitor was ever given a fair trial personally nor by official history. But there is no question the world would not be the same without them.

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