Thursday, 23 August 2012

The liberal monstering of Assange

Not so very long ago, Julian Assange, posting vital information allegedly leaked by Bradley Manning, helped expose some of America's and the wider West's darkest crimes.

In particular, we now know, thanks to Manning, Assange and his fellow activists at Wikileaks, the gruesome video-specific details of how US pilots ruthlessly took out innocent civilians on an Iraqi street.

Possibly no other journalist has ever been able to expose so many crimes of the powerful.

And no other journalist has ever been exposed to such wrathful retribution from those same powerful forces.

Noam Chomsky asserts that Assange should be awarded "a medal" for his services to humanity.

Instead, while Manning is incarcerated and tortured in a US jail, Assange is vilified and ridiculed by a hateful liberal media.

Following his speech from the Ecuadorean embassy, the Guardian's Luke Harding was among multiple liberal editors and journalists rushing to press with scurrilous, pantomime pieces, as in his "The balcony Bolivar of Knightsbridge".

Sarah Smith from Channel 4 News continued the tired theme with the headline smear that Assange had "appeared like Evita" at the embassy window.

And so it went on, the clamour of liberal joviality over Assange's situation too long and cringing to list.

While avoiding such obvious ribaldry, the Guardian's clawing editorial 'the balcony defence' left the reader in no doubt as to the same 'opportune' nature of Mr Assange's residency at the embassy: 
"This is his traditional method of argument: to conflate a number of causes – big and small, international and individual – into one, so that Mr Assange is WikiLeaks, which is freedom of speech, which holds powerful states to account; and so on, ever upwards. Yet Mr Assange is not facing a show trial over the journalism of WikiLeaks; he is dodging allegations of rape."
Here we saw the Guardian, once again, in its true, virulent colours, a gushing, righteous organ calling out Assange's 'hypocrisy' in a bid to offset the real reasons for his enforced asylum and shield its own hypocritical backstabbing.

As John Pilger, in collective indictment of Britain's diplomatic aggression and Guardian apologetics notes:
"It is as if the Olympics happy-clappery has been subverted overnight by an illuminating display of colonial thuggery. Witness the British army officer-cum-BBC reporter Mark Urban “interviewing” a braying Sir Christopher Meyer, Blair’s former apologist in Washington, outside the Ecuadorean embassy, the pair of them erupting with Blimpish indignation that the unclubbable Assange and the uncowed Rafael Correa should expose the western system of rapacious power. Similar affront is vivid in the pages of the Guardian, which has counselled Hague to be “patient” and that storming the embassy would be “more trouble than it is worth”. Assange was not a political refugee, the Guar­dian declared, because “neither Sweden nor the UK would in any case deport someone who might face torture or the death penalty”. The irresponsibility of this statement matches the Guardian’s perfidious role in the whole Assange affair. The paper knows full well that documents released by WikiLeaks indicate that Sweden has consistently submitted to pressure from the United States in matters of civil rights." 
It was also, once again, open season on anyone seen defending Assange, notably, for the Independent, George Galloway, the "Bradford MP and notorious polemicist" who dared to air an honourable defence of Assange and honest opinion on the alleged nature of the sexual encounter.

Whether one agrees entirely with Galloway's interpretations here, his words contain not the slightest indication that rape is anything other than rape. Indeed, besides serving to highlight the real political agenda behind the pursuit of Assange, Galloway's central point is that such abuse of the evidence actually demeans the true, brutal reality of rape and wider violence against women. Ignoring such argument, and further clarifications, the vilification, all too predictably, flowed.

True to form, some 'safe leftist' commentariat joined the attack on Galloway, keen, it seems, to be on the 'pure side' of liberal-establishment opinion.  

Craig Murray, the dissident ex-UK diplomat, was, likewise, attacked on Newsnight for naming one of the women making the allegations against Assange. It should be said here that any alleged rape victim has a lawful right to anonymity - as has the accused. Yet, as Murray shows, her name has already been stated countless times across the mainstream media and massively trailed across the  internet.

Rather than address the cynical ways in which Swedish state prosecutors, urged on by the US, have utilised these women to pursue Assange, Murray's key point on how serious whistleblowers can suddenly find themselves facing stigmatising charges got completely swamped by shrill liberal journalists.

The Independent's Laurie Penny also joined the fray with the spurious proposition that this must be seen as a showdown issue either for women's rights or freedom of speech.

Unequivocally, in matters of sexual engagement, no always means no. Yet, as Naomi Wolf, citing eight major areas of concern, insists, no reasonable observer of the available evidence in the Assange case can be in any doubt about disturbing inconsistencies in the presentation and pursuit of these particular allegations:
"Based on my 23 years of reporting on global rape law, and my five years of supporting women at rape crisis centers and battered women’s shelters, I can say with certainty that this case is not being treated as a normal rape or sexual assault case. New details from the Swedish police make this quite clear. Their transcript of the complaints against Assange is strikingly unlike the dozens of such transcripts that I have read throughout the years as an advocate for victims of sex crimes."
The campaign group Women Against Rape have also seen through the political charade and spoken out:
"When Julian Assange was first arrested, we were struck by the unusual zeal with which he was being pursued for rape allegations. It seems even clearer now, that the allegations against him are a smokescreen behind which a number of governments are trying to clamp down on WikiLeaks for having audaciously revealed to the public their secret planning of wars and occupations with their attendant rape, murder and destruction.Justice for an accused rapist does not deny justice for his accusers. But in this case justice is being denied both to accusers and accused."
Highlighting a deeper disregard for violence against women, Women Against Rape condemn the real motives driving Assange's accusers:
"Whether or not Assange is guilty of sexual violence, we do not believe that is why he is being pursued. Once again women's fury and frustration at the prevalence of rape and other violence, is being used by politicians to advance their own purposes. The authorities care so little about violence against women that they manipulate rape allegations at will, usually to increase their powers, this time to facilitate Assange's extradition or even rendition to the US. That the US has not presented a demand for his extradition at this stage is no guarantee that they won't do so once he is in Sweden, and that he will not be tortured as Bradley Manning and many others, women and men, have. Women Against Rape cannot ignore this threat."
Nor, as Women Against Rape, remind us, has Assange or his legal team at any time rejected questioning by the Swedish investigative authorities. Despite having conducted other police enquiries with suspects in foreign countries, Sweden's refusal to speak with Assange here in the UK, or now at the open invitation of the Ecuadorean embassy, is the most telling signal of darker political motives.

While both women in this case, as in any other, have the standing legal right to have their allegations addressed, Assange also has the ultimate right to protect himself from political persecution.

What's at stake here is the highly likely possibility of Assange's onward extradition to the US, a view founded on the very reasonable suspicion that these allegations have been deliberately fabricated to ensnare the world's foremost whistleblower.

In an admirable defence of Assange, Michael Moore and Oliver Stone offer the sobering reminder that:
"a grand jury has already returned a sealed indictment of Mr. Assange. And history indicates Sweden would buckle to any pressure from the United States to hand over Mr. Assange. In 2001 the Swedish government delivered two Egyptians seeking asylum to the C.I.A., which rendered them to the Mubarak regime, which tortured them. "
One might reasonably expect all that key context to be highlighted by the liberal media pack. Instead, as noted in a bravura piece from new Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald:
"Assange has clearly demonstrated what happens to real adversarial dissidents and insurgents – they're persecuted, demonized, and threatened, not befriended by and invited to parties within the halls of imperial power – and he thus causes many journalists to stand revealed as posers, servants to power, and courtiers."
Seumas Milne, the other resident exception at the Guardian, also asks readers not to lose sight over why the US is out to grab Assange:
"Can anyone seriously believe the dispute would have gone global, or that the British government would have made its asinine threat to suspend the Ecuadorean embassy's diplomatic status and enter it by force, or that scores of police would have surrounded the building, swarming up and down the fire escape and guarding every window, if it was all about one man wanted for questioning over sex crime allegations in Stockholm?"
Both of these excellent analyses stand out against the herd media establishment, taking apart, in Greenwald's particular piece, the legalities set out by the New Statesman's legal correspondent David Allen Green, a long-standing critic of Assange.

Greenwald also, in updates to the piece, commends links to other legal opinion refuting Green's points, including Green's insistence that Sweden has no power to guarantee Assange assurances on any onward extradition to the US.

And while the Guardian itself is not indicted directly here, Greenwald and Milne allude strongly to its mendacious record in castigating Assange.

For good measure, Greenwald notes:
"As one long-time British journalist told me this week when discussing the vitriol of the British press toward Assange: "Nothing delights British former lefties more than an opportunity to defend power while pretending it is a brave stance in defence of a left liberal principle." That's the warped mindset that led to so many of these self-styled liberal journalists to support the attack on Iraq and other acts of Western aggression in the name of liberal values. And it's why nothing triggers their rage like fundamental critiques of, and especially meaningful opposition to, the institutions of power to which they are unfailingly loyal."
Greenwald may have stopped prudently short of openly naming and shaming the Guardian itself, his new employer, but the point will have been uncomfortably registered by its editor Alan Rusbridger and his editorial/journalist circle. One can only hope that both Greenwald and Milne come to articulate even more forcefully just what kind of power-enhancing role the Guardian serves in its guise of 'vanguard leftism'.

The predicament faced by Assange, the dark collusion between America, Sweden and Britain, the punitive ramifications now faced by Ecuador, the sudden blackening of its president Rafael Correa, the political hijacking of the rape issue and, let us not forget, the painful penury of Bradley Manning - these are all key issues that any serious, radical media would be focusing on rather than the vicious jibes and character assassination we're seeing against Assange and his defenders.

The liberal media's resort to such crude monstering and gleeful mockery only serves to expose its subservience, its shallowness and its own, much darker underside.


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