Writing Sample 3: Political Letter to the Editor

Hackers are the New Hippies

Remember when hackers were the bad guys? OK, Republicans and the CIA still think so, but a lot of people don’t. If you look up the Anonymous group online (they are on Facebook!), you’ll find these hackers are idealists, just like the hippies in the Sixties.

Like the hippies, Anonymous and other hackers consider themselves outside of mainstream society. They are proud to be part of the counterculture. Part of this is dressing differently so as not to be misidentified as “normal” or a “sheeple” who follows mainstream ideas. Hippies had crazy Bellbottom jeans, fringed suede vests, love beads and long, unkempt hair. Hackers have hoodies, jeans and tennis shoes and follow teen fashion by wearing lots of black and getting piercings. Anonymous takes it a step further by wearing masks for anonymity… and to look cool.

The hippies got a lot of bad press in the Sixties and Seventies for their drug use, but later earned respect for their peaceful protests against the super unpopular war in Vietnam. Likewise, Anonymous speaks out against American wars in the Middle East. Anonymous blasts our government for lying about the reasons that we go to war. Remember the never-found weapons of mass destruction? Bush based an entire war on this lie. The hippies didn’t trust what the government was telling them. And history has proven them right. Claims by the army that we were winning the Vietnam War and that we never fought outside the boundaries of Vietnam (we dropped more bombs in Laos than we did over Germany in WWII) were later proven to be lies.

Another common thread between the two groups is opposing capitalism, not in its most basic form but when taken to extremes. We’ve all heard how American wealth is now concentrated in the hands of a very few. The top 1% (people with $8.5 million in the bank) hold 30 percent of all American assets. We’ve heard how this imbalance of wealth is the worst since the Great Depression. CEOs earn $14 million per year on average while retail store workers earn less than $18,000/year ($8.50 an hour on average). The hippies were happy to escape normal life by driving off in their VW buses, exploring America one music festival at a time. They didn’t value working a business job 40 hours a week, sitting quietly in a cubicle and obeying corporate rules. They valued their independence more than they valued a business career. So do hackers, who notoriously work alone, sometimes while lying in their jammies on the couch, as Trump referred to.

Hippies and hackers are on the same page on environmental issues, too. Anonymous favors clean energy like rooftop solar panels and wind turbine farms. If America would rely more on clean energy, the ozone layer would be healthier and there would be less global warming to worry about. And with less reliance on oil and gas, our government would be less inclined to start wars in the Middle East. Wars which they tell us are fought to topple dictatorships or find bin Laden or bring freedom and democracy. But we know they are really fought to gain oil rights. Likewise, the hippies pushed back against “the man” whose interests were making a quick buck with no regard for clean air or clean water or the preservation of natural beauty, like the mining hills of West Virginia which are now treeless and blunted.

Hacktivism is a growing trend. More and more people are questioning the government, especially after the presidential election. FBI director Comey released statements to the press about Hillary’s emails just one week before America voted for president. Sketchy. The CIA is insisting that Putin himself ordered Hillary’s emails to be hacked. Never mind that WikiLeaks, who released the emails, denies this. Even Trump, our new president, doesn’t believe the CIA. Do you think the FBI and the CIA have an agenda that they are pushing? Are you a critical thinker who doesn’t just believe what you are told? Then you could be part of the new wave of activists: the “hacktivist.” Break out your (now legal in some states) marijuana stash and listen to Hendrix on iTunes. Or just wear all black and carry your laptop everywhere.