The point of Orwell’s elephant story is not that he should or shouldn’t have killed the elephant. Maybe killing the elephant was necessary. But whatever the legal or moral arguments, killing the elephant was, for Orwell, a horrible act committed for selfish reasons. That part of the story cannot, and should not, be removed. In writing the essay, Orwell restored the messy truth. Orwell killed an animal even though he didn’t want to and even though doing so caused him much pain. Orwell killed the animal because of his own pride, and stubbornness, and fear.
Like Orwell’s writing, Snowden’s whistle-blowing restores the ugliness. By giving us this information, Snowden is showing us the true face of our pride, and stubbornness, and fear. In wanting to make America invulnerable to attack, we’ve created an almost all-powerful surveillance state that watches us from the shadows day and night. Perhaps this is necessary. Perhaps it will make for a safer and better world in the long run. But as Orwell would say, it is important not to be deceived as to its true nature.