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New Pew Poll Finds American Reputation for Freedom Faded After Snowden Leaks

In what little American Mythology there is the idea of freedom and exceptionalism runs throughout. Across the country and across the globe, America is seen as a place for freedom, opportunity, and the center of all that’s cool. Yet, according to a report from The Washington Post, our reputation for freedom may be on the decline, at least in the eyes of the world.

A newly-released survey by Pew Research has found that “22 of 36 countries surveyed in both 2013 and 2014…people are significantly less likely to believe the U.S. government respects the personal freedoms of its citizens.” Pew Research attributes this decline to changing attitudes after the revelations of Edward Snowden about the NSA. They also (unsurprisingly) strongly objected to the monitoring of citizens of their countries by the agency.

For many Americans, especially those either in-tune with the problems facing the country or caught up in the system, we are well aware the “freedom” pitch is a tale almost as tall as Paul Bunyan. The U.S. has the highest prison population in the world. Our government is deeply in the pockets of big business. People can’t even build a fence or addition on their own property without pages and pages of permit applications and the like. There are only two states where one can smoke marijuana legally without permission from a doctor. As far as freedom goes, it can feel as if we live with boots consistently on our necks.

Of course, to the rest of the world these are laughable concerns. Our own sense of freedom aside, to those from countries with brutal dictators or a lack of any real free speech at all, America is a paradise. In fact, according to the Pew poll even with the NSA revelations – about international as well as domestic spying – a significant majority of countries surveyed still rate the U.S. as “favorable.”

About the author

Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. Along with news and current events, he writes about parenting, art, and personal stories. His serial fiction story "The Prophet Hustle" is available at JukePop.com and a forthcoming independent ebook about the cam-modeling industry "Dirty Little Windows" will be available later this summer.