Why aren’t Beau Bergdahl or Edward Snowden the new Yossarian? Here’s what Win Lose or Draw has to say on that subject:
Those of us who have read Catch 22 tend to agree that the main character, Yossarian, rises above the smoke of the battlefield and assumes Heroic status. If the author, Joseph Heller, had written an anti-war novel, some legitimate comparisons between Yossarian and our more contemporary dissenters would be justified. However, Catch 22 is not essentially an anti-war novel. The novel is Set in war torn Italy, but the German enemy barely puts in an appearance in planes hidden by the clouds or shooting Flac from far, far below. Joseph Heller used his pen as a scalpel to dissect the human reaction to war, not war itself.
The next two paragraphs are taken from this Wikipedia article, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catch-22:
In the book, Catch-22 is a military rule typifying bureaucratic operation and reasoning. The rule is never explicitly stated, but the principal example in the book fits the definition: If you are crazy, you can be discharged from the army. But you have to apply for the discharge, and applying demonstrates that you are not crazy. As a result, you will not be discharged. The narrator explains:
There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one’s safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he were sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn’t have to; but if he didn’t want to, he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle. (p. 56, ch. 5)
Joseph Heller and Win Lose or Draw agree that war creates a vortex of insanity. However, once we are in a war there is only one thing more insane than participating in that war, and that one thing is to give aide to our enemy.
Yossarian does not give the enemy anything. He just takes off his clothes in a vain attempt to persuade everyone that he is crazy. Since everyone else is in the same vortex of insanity, they all realize that Yossarian’s nudity in formation proves his sanity, not his insanity.
Beau Bergdahl and Edward Snowden have proven their sanity, and now they will be justly prosecuted for aiding the enemy.