The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Whistleblowers are loyal to the idea

Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen testified on Capitol Hill in Washington on Oct. 5.
Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen testified on Capitol Hill in Washington on Oct. 5. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)
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In her Oct. 28 Thursday Opinion column, “Why this Facebook scandal is bigger than any other,” Molly Roberts cast a skeptical eye on whistleblowers. She noted that whistleblowers may attract “as much scorn as admiration for a lack of loyalty — the gumption it takes to decide you’re right when everyone around you and above you is wrong looks like individualism to some and narcissism to others.” She described whistleblower action as a betrayal.

The terms “lack of loyalty” and “betrayal” are typically terms of contempt. Ms. Roberts did not address the “lack of loyalty” and “betrayal” that may be endemic to large institutions that become loyal to themselves rather than to their missions. Are victims of abuse by priests “betraying” the Catholic Church when they become whistleblowers? Are civil servants who disclose corruption in their departments guilty of “lack of loyalty”? No. For the most part, these are people who see wrongdoing and are brave enough to report it.

Large institutions tend to hide abuse and cover up their errors. They are the culprits. By shedding light on their actions, whistleblowers remain loyal to the supposed mission of those institutions — and loyal to our broader civic society.

Carolyn McGiffert Ekedahl, Bethesda

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