There’s an interesting fault line opening up on the left between Julian Assange the Wikileaks hero and Julian Assange the potential rapist. Cath Elliott makes some good points in response to John Band’s nasty, dismissive piece about the Assange rape allegations. Of course we know that leftwing males will indulge misogyny when it suits them – we know that from their response to female dissidents from the Islamic world. The point here is that LibCon writers could just say ‘I applaud Wikileaks commitment to freedom of information, but I don’t trust Assange the man.’ Unfortunately there’s still a tendency to hero worship that gets in the way of rational judgements.
Assange over recent months has become a celebrity in his own right. He’s like a Benny Hill version of the Scarlett Pimpernel. Possibly it has gone to his head. Serious reports suggest that all is not well at Wikileaks Towers. The Independent‘s sources paint a picture of a transparency organisation hijacked by one man’s ideological crusade. An Icelandic freedom of information campaigner and ex-Wikileaks volunteer told the paper that ‘Key people have become very concerned about the direction of Wikileaks with regard to its strong focus on US military files at the expense of ignoring everything else’ – particularly ‘the dramatic increase in submissions from whistleblowers within closed countries, dictatorships and corporations.’
Assange also doesn’t seem to understand the potential consequences of simply releasing everything you find into the public domain. We need to know about NATO crimes in Afghanistan. We don’t need Assange to write the Taliban’s hit list for them. The decision to publish the names of Afghans working with NATO was apparently Assange’s alone – and condemned by Amnesty, Reporters without Borders and many Wikileaks staffers. Icelandic parliamentarian and Wikileaks colleague Birgitta Jonsdottir said ‘We were very, very upset with that, and with the way he spoke about it afterwards… If he could just focus on the important things he does, it would be better.’ The Guardian’s Carole Cadwalladr asked Assange in person: ‘What about these named sources? Might [you] have endangered their lives?’
‘If there are innocent Afghans being revealed, which was our concern, which was why we kept back 15,000 files, then of course we take that seriously.’
But what if it’s too late?
‘Well, we will review our procedures.’
Too late for the individuals, I say. Dead.
You can see Assange’s cavalier regard for human life when he boasts about an expose of a corrupt Kenyan politician that apparently influenced the extremely violent 2007 election. ”1,300 people were eventually killed, and 350,000 were displaced. That was a result of our leak,’ says Assange.’
Of course Wikileaks is here to stay and over time it will become one source of valuable information among many. But reading through his petulant and tyrannical response to criticism from within Wikileaks and without (not to mention his Vogon poetry) it’s clear that Assange the man is an embarrassment who is rapidly bringing the organisation into disrepute. As I write, Assange is on remand in Wandsworth. God knows what his fate is. But whatever happens, I think Wikileaks would prosper if it had a figurehead with a little more steadiness and self-awareness.
Also: read Christopher Hitchens and David Allen Green. And don’t miss this Zionist conspiracy theory, via Martin Bright, from a guy called Tariq Shahid of the Palestine Think Tank who notices one glaring omission in the cables:
Browse through all the news sources available on the latest Wikileaks revelation, and try to find even only one revelation that actually damages Israel, even though so many of the revealed documents are directly or indirectly connected to Middle East politics, and to a large extent to Israeli affairs. Did you find any document among them that either creates difficulties for the government of the Zionist entity, or even slightly embarrasses it? Think about it well, you will find that the answer is a very simple ‘No’.
The plot thickens!
Update: Loads of recommended reading here. Alastair Campbell on Wikispin. US feminist Amy Siskind responds to a weak, stupid satire by Naomi Wolf. Anyone who still doubts the misogyny of many Assange groupies should read Esther Addley’s essential piece.
Amanda Marcotte gets to the heart of it for me.
It’s possible both that Wikileaks is a necessary curative for government overreach and that its leader is out to serve his own ego needs above all. Anyone who thinks that’s impossible needs to think harder about what’s going on when politicians get sentimental on the campaign trail.
Why can’t the left piss and whistle at the same time?
More: Jim Denham highlights a letter in the Guardian that denounces the ‘dubious charges’ against Assange, and is signed by the usual establishment-left, pro-totalitarian scum.
An attractive blonde, Sarah was already a well-known ‘radical feminist’. In her 30s, she had travelled the world following various fashionable causes.
While a research assistant at a local university she had not only been the protegee of a militant feminist academic, but held the post of ‘campus sexual equity officer’. Fighting male discrimination in all forms, including sexual harassment, was her forte.
well at least two of the women who have commented here are radical feminists, who have highly negative views of all men; and one of them has a vendetta against tommy Sheridan.