Photo by Tia Dufour

Margaret Valenti writes on the necessity of resistance within the White House and the ramifications of Anonymous’ choice to remain anonymous. 

A new book coming out, A Warning, is written by Anonymous, the same “White House official” who claimed in a New York Times article back in 2018 that they led a resistance against President Donald Trump from within the White House. The book speaks of the rampant turmoil within the Trump administration that has negatively impacted the U.S. and the world.

Similar to the Whistleblower currently wreaking havoc on the Trump administration — a scandal which could theoretically cost Trump the White House or any chance of reelection — there are attempts to identify and discredit the figure behind Anonymous. Donald Trump attempted to get The New York Times to give him the name of Anonymous back when the article was published. The Justice Department, at Trump’s request, recently tried to get Hachette, the publisher of A Warning, to reveal the identity of the author as well, which Hachette refused to do. 

The Dangers Of Resistance Inside The White House

Obviously, any insurgency within an administration, especially the White House, is deeply troubling and reveals a lot about the current state of the presidency and the country at large. No administration wants to endure a resistance from the inside, which is often more difficult to put down than any on the outside.

In a quote from The New York Times article, I Am Part Of A Resistance Within The White House, Anonymous writes that “the erratic behavior would be more concerning if it weren’t for unsung heroes in and around the White House. Some of his aides have been cast as villains by the media. But in private, they have gone to great lengths to keep bad decisions contained to the West Wing, though they are clearly not always successful.”

Perhaps some of these people are already out of the White House, even Anonymous themselves, but the issue of resistance within the White House, while perhaps necessary, is an issue of national security. There is hardly any denying that, it is almost as if the turmoil within the White House can somehow reverberate onto the citizens of the U.S. The rise of nationalism in countries and Presidents around the world like Vladimir Putin, Boris Johnson, Rodrigo Duterte, Xi Jinping, Win Myint, and Jair Bolsonaro, to name a few, is a concern for liberals, who champion a globalist viewpoint rather than a patriotic one. 

Most would claim that this rise in nationalism has more to do with the elected leaders than the resistance against them, but there is always a duality, a push and a pull. In the U.S., with the election of Obama, many were lured into the idea that the U.S. would continue on a liberal path. They did not anticipate the resistance that would come and then the counter-resistance that some feel is necessary now. 

To Remain Anonymous

It is hard to know what Anonymous’ goals truly are. What proof is there, truly, that this person is doing anything at all to resist Trump from within the White House? Are we supposed to have blind faith? Even Anonymous admits themselves in their upcoming book that “unelected bureaucrats and cabinet appointees were never going to steer Donald Trump in the right direction in the long run, or refine his malignant management style . . . He is who he is.” 

It is hard to know whether Anonymous can be trusted since they do not have the same evidence backing up their claims as the Whistleblower. Perhaps, A Warning will enlighten the public about these supposed efforts, but let’s be clear, it is dangerous to dismiss Anonymous outright. 

Ksenija Pavlovic McAteer, the founder and Editor-in-Chief of this publication, believes that Anonymous’ choice to remain anonymous erodes confidence in the constitutional powers of the First Amendment and ultimately disrespects those who choose to speak out and accept the repercussions. She wrote about her concerns recently in her article Grow Some Balls Anonymous And Take Off The Mask. However, if Anonymous is still working in the White House and should Anonymous hope to continue their resistance, revealing their identity might destroy everything they hope to gain by being an insider.

The First Amendment gives people the right to speak as they wish, with some limitations, and does not demand that they speak as they are. While the sacrifices both made by Jamal Khashoggi and Edward Snowden are excellent examples of people who exposed oppression and corruption, Khashoggi ended up dead and Snowden will continue his asylum in Russia until 2022. Snowden did flee on his own accord, but it is doubtful he would receive the same treatment as the current whistleblower. Given the specifics of his position in the CIA, he chose to “whistleblow” outside of government protocol and probably for good reason. 

Both of these men were essentially labeled traitors and their individual circumstances were dealt with accordingly, with international ramifications. Anonymous is someone, like Snowden, whose very existence threatens the current stability of the U.S. Perhaps the government would protect Anonymous, but the First Amendment is clearly not a blanket protection. It certainly does not protect a U.S. citizen from foreign governments. 

There are journalists in the U.S. who are jailed and threatened if they do not give up sources, and still they choose not to. In general, however, journalists do not look highly on anonymous sources. That is why when they choose to accept an anonymous source it is usually for a very good reason.

The New York Times acknowledged their decision to keep Anonymous anonymous in the initial article by writing that “the Times is taking the rare step of publishing an anonymous Op-Ed essay. We have done so at the request of the author, a senior official in the Trump administration whose identity is known to us and whose job would be jeopardized by its disclosure. We believe publishing this essay anonymously is the only way to deliver an important perspective to our readers.” 

Remain Anonymous, Anonymous

The book may not tell the public anything that they do not already know and Anonymous may simply be writing it to gain more popularity. Though Anonymous is against impeachment or the use of the 25th amendment to remove Trump from office, they do not want Trump to get reelected. Yet it is also true that Anonymous may be causing further disunion by writing the book, which is why they are against the use of impeachment and the 25th amendment in the first place. They cannot gain any profit since all the proceeds from the book will be donated to the free press.

There are multiple cases around the world of journalists and “traitors” who did not and still do not have the luxury of being able to be anonymous and continue to speak out against oppression and corruption. These people are heroes. In no way does Anonymous’ choice to be anonymous intend to dishonor them. It is true that the U.S. offers a lot of protection for people who choose to speak out, but it is clear that the protection is still limited. 

To still be a little bit afraid, especially during this administration, is not an invalid concern. Donald Trump and his allies still actively threaten the Whistleblower. If the Whistleblower’s identity was ever publicly revealed, what would happen? Would they be protected or would they be labeled a traitor and end up like Snowden? There is a reason that anonymity is an important protection in The Whistleblower Protection Act.

If the blanket of anonymity is what Anonymous needs to speak out against this administration, even if they are no longer a senior White House official, I, personally, would rather they speak out than remain silent. 

Margaret Valenti is the Editor of Generation Z Voice at The Pavlovic Today. 

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