National Whistleblower Day celebrates the contributions of all whistleblowers.
Recently, the National Whistleblower Center published a post on its Facebook page about the Senate’s Proclamation of July 30th, 2016 as National Whistleblower Appreciation Day. This post has received tremendous response with over 2,300 likes, 521 shares and over 300 comments. Much of the response was supportive, but others question the sincerity of celebrating July 30th as National Whistleblower Day given how badly national security whistleblowers like Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning have been treated.
I want to be clear, the way national security whistleblowers have been treated is unjust, and the fact that protections for national security whistleblowers are so weak is absolutely unacceptable. However, we cannot let the James Clappers of the world tarnish the history or enthusiasm of our movement. National Whistleblower Day is the day we have to honor all whistleblowers, to celebrate the accomplishments we’ve been able to make together, and to recognize the profound history that brought us here.
The truth is enormous victories have been won for whistleblowers in the past few years. Whistleblowers are making huge strides holding fraudulent companies accountable, rights and protections have been expanded, and whistleblowers are not only being protected but also rewarded, sometimes with multi-million dollar payouts.
This isn’t happening by accident, this is the result of a long-standing movement to support whistleblowers. National Whistleblower Day is at the heart of that movement, providing us with a powerful vehicle to challenge the culture of silence, retaliation, and abuse of power.
When I went back and studied original documents from the American Revolution and uncovered the whistleblowers’ petitions to Congress and their letters, (some written from a jail cell), I saw courage put into action. I saw how our right to free speech had been pioneered by whistleblowers exposing wrongdoing at the highest levels of the U.S. Navy. The fact that our Founding Fathers, at the height of the American Revolution, supported these whistleblowers was eye opening. It showed me that supporting whistleblowers is a fundamental part of our legacy as a country.
There is power in this history. A power we must employ to change culture and law. National Whistleblower Day is a vehicle to achieve that change.
The linked column from the New York Times fully recounts this history, and why National Whistleblower Day must be celebrated on July 30th of every year.
Author of The Whistleblower’s Handbook and
National Whistleblower Center