Sunday, February 09, 2014

Edward Snowden, rhetorician?

Edward Snowden turned the NSA's tools against it -- or, depending on your point of view, ultimately in service to it. He also knows how to turn a phrase inside out to assert a moral contrast -- or else, his ACLU lawyer (Ben Wizner?) does, or the two in concert do.  This little barb in today's NYT front-pager* about how Snowden caught his documents caught my eye:

Through his lawyer at the American Civil Liberties Union, Mr. Snowden did not specifically address the government’s theory of how he obtained the files, saying in a statement: “It’s ironic that officials are giving classified information to journalists in an effort to discredit me for giving classified information to journalists. The difference is that I did so to inform the public about the government’s actions, and they’re doing so to misinform the public about mine.”
Nice deployment there of isocolon, repetition of grammatical forms, in service of antithesis, using two opposites in the same sentence. Maureen Dowd, who loves this kind of phrase-flipping, would be proud.

* By David Sanger and Eric Schmitt

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