In an open letter published on Tuesday, Edward Snowden’s father (assisted by his attorney) wrote:
The reference to Thomas Paine moved us to search for the original contextual source, yet while the approximate quote appears everywhere on the internet, attributed to Paine, we have been unable to trace the mother text.
A twentieth century patriot named Edward Abbey, much esteemed here at DP, voiced a similar idea in A Voice Crying From the Wilderness:
A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.
And while reviewing the extraordinary writings of Thomas Paine in search of the elusive quotation, we were reminded of his stirring opening paragraph to The American Crisis, written in December of 1776 during a time of extreme hardship for the American revolutionaries:
During our own darkening time of crisis here in America, we see throngs of sunshine patriots and summer soldiers, and a sad paucity of those willing to take a stand in defense of individuals like Edward Snowden who have risked everything to protect our country against its government. Most of us seem all too willing — eager, even — to renounce reason and to believe the vacant blather issued forth from the organs of Pacification & Hogwash.
Such observations return us to another sentence from Abbey’s all too contemporary wilderness cry, five simple words that we have just pinned to the wall above our desk: