When Ed Snowden, our pissy and so self-righteous Defender of the Faith and of All Truth, who Sees the Higher Path and knows What is Right when none of his thousands of colleagues do, who knows what MUST be done to save America when all around him everyone else is Corrupted by Mammon or one of the other Seven Princes of Hell, when this icon of moral and ethical perfection had his passport pulled by the State Department (surprise!!) he complained that the USA was violating a clause of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and inhibiting his right to travel internationally and to seek asylum.
It was written right after WW II and at the very dawn of the United Nations. The head of the committee that wrote it was none other than Eleanor Roosevelt, former first lady of the United States. You can read all about it at the link I provide below. The key to understanding this Declaration is to understand, somehow, that WW II was much worse than you think it was and that people, some people at least, were idealistic about a new beginning when the war ended. And so, this international committee of idealists and intellectuals put together a short list of things that "would be nice".
Wouldn't it be nice if everyone could be educated? Yes. Wouldn't it be nice if there could be freedom of religion? Sure. Wouldn't it be nice if people could express their beliefs freely, and travel wherever they wanted, and made a living that allowed them to realize their potential and not be thrown in jail without due cause? Absolutely! And so forth, and so on.
Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.
Forgive me for being a little cynical here but we are talking about 1948 or so: Stalin is wiping out entire minority groups, people are being thrown out of windows in Czechoslovakia, Mao is demonstrating what he meant by "all power comes out of the barrel of a gun", the colonial empires of various western empires are meeting the post-WW 2 anti-colonial movements of S.E. Asia and Africa, and these fluffy liberals are making Universal Declarations of Human Rights.
The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights is about 2.5 typewritten pages long, and is very easy to read. It is at: http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/
In giving our approval to the declaration today, it is of primary importance that we keep clearly in mind the basic character of the document. It is not a treaty; it is not an international agreement. It is not and does not purport to be a statement of law or of legal obligation. It is a declaration of basic principles of human rights and freedoms, to be stamped with the approval of the General Assembly by formal vote of its members, and to serve as a common standard of achievement for all peoples of all nations.
Which is how I think history will judge Snowden overall.
Naive, very naive.