VIA: A group of artists in the New York City area have installed a 100-pound bust of Edward Snowden into an existing memorial in Brooklyn.
The Prison Ship Martyrs Monument memorializes more than 11,500 men and women who were held captive by the British in ships anchored in the East River. They died from starvation, disease, and other complications from overcrowding.
The artists explained their decision to install the Snowden bust at this particular memorial in a blog post:
Fort Greene’s Prison Ship Martyrs Monument is a memorial to American POWs who lost their lives during the Revolutionary War. We have updated this monument to highlight those who sacrifice their safety in the fight against modern-day tyrannies. It would be a dishonor to those memorialized here to not laud those who protect the ideals they fought for, as Edward Snowden has by bringing the NSA’s 4th-Amendment-violating surveillance programs to light.
These artists aren’t the only ones talking about Snowden this week. Last night, John Oliver aired his interview with Edward Snowden and discussed Section 215, calling the public debate so far “absolutely pathetic.”
No matter what a person’s position is on Snowden and his actions, there has been very little real debate about it. Oliver’s interview brought attention back to Snowden in a helpful manner. It is questionable, however, whether altering a war memorial and making it about Snowden will do any good. Instead, the conversation will devolve into protest methods, whether these activists respect the Americans memorialized, and whether these activists are disrespecting the artists behind the original memorial. The connection between Snowden and the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument is also thin at best, and the same arguments could have been made for almost any war memorial.
To be fair to the artists, they expect that their work will not stick around for long, so they used an adhesive that could be removed without damaging the original memorial.