Cutting the head off the Wikileaks snake
It was bound to happen eventually: the public scope regarding #Wikileaks from what one can read in comments, twitter and overall the tones of most of the articles has significantly narrowed.
Rather unsurprisingly we have found ourselves not concerned with the content of the cables themselves (which investigative journalists don’t really try to, you know investigate) but with the ever more illustrious-as-time-goes-on Julian Assange. The discussions regarding Wikileaks you will find now do not typically involve the following -
“Hey, did you hear that in a case that is not uncommon Republican Dana Rohrabacher showed up to congratulate Porfirio Lobo Sosa in Honduras?“
“That doesn’t sound wierd, the cables are useless!”
“He showed up not with foreign policy aides, but with property investors and businessmen. Oh look its there but the Times presented the story with extreme bias.”
“Oh, well if they wish to exploit a country which recently underwent a coup by ‘investing’ whatever they can in a system where judges are afraid of being dismissed so they don’t speak out against the government which rules over a country where 70% of the people are in poverty… then thats fine with me. As long as the US looks after their investments by supporting their brutal military against those evil trade union backed ‘populist’ leaders.”
“Yeah, no skin off my back that it’s the third coup in recent history in the area which has occurred as a result of a military – which happens to have close ties to the US either. Wanna go to McDonalds?”
Obviously conversations such as these were unlikely to happen or if they did they would be far less convoluted with such trivial things as ‘facts’ and ‘background information’ but they are even less unlikely in this form now. What is happening instead are such conversations like these.
“You like Wikileaks?”
“Yeah, I believe they are doing good in their role as a publisher of documents which should be seen by the public.”
“You must be one of those dirty blonde Australian rapist lovers, that guy is so creepy. What a wierdo. Hes such a megalomaniac I bet he doesn’t wear a condom because he likes women having to perform abortions so they don’t give birth to his soon-to-be rapist children.”
It is this narrowing that I very unoriginally call cutting the head off the Wikileaks snake. Not because I think Julian Assange is a snake (although I’m sure this will be raised: ‘snakes are slithery!’) but because this is a well known saying; To kill a snake you must cut it’s head off. But Wikileaks as an idea and a concept is not a snake it is far bigger than this, you cannot reasonably attack an organization which seeks what should be fundamental tenets to real democracy – “Better scrutiny leads to reduced corruption and stronger democracies in all society’s institutions, including government, corporations and other organisations.”
To cut the head off the Wikileaks snake you must first position Julian Assange as the head of the snake. Once coverage of what are as it stands right now are allegations reaches the point where the following interview takes place it only takes a moment to want to plant ones face in ones palm.
Humphrys: “Are you a sexual predator?”
Assange: “Of course not”
Thankyou to the quite abrasive John Humphrys for that thrilling exposé in which he got down to the real hard questions on that pervert rapist Julian Assange. I apologise for that last sentence, I have merely taken the tone of Max Hastings over at the Daily Mail. In all Humphrys showed what remarkable work journalists can do when they put their mind to character defilement and is a thrilling engagement. It’s hard not to laugh at the “Are you a sexual predator” question, given that the rest of the media has pretty much converted rape allegations to concrete rape charges — even more bemusingly when Assange disarms Humphrys shark-like questions rather easily. No matter what occurs from this point — the issue is not solely with Humphrys, to dismiss it as that would be absolutely ridiculous. In the same way that those who made or have made assumptions about the victims of which I am guilty personally also – which include a ridiculously voracious and tenuously linked article regarding ‘CIA ties’ of the alleged victims which the almighty Keith Olbermann even tweeted (He later ‘justified’ this with a personal attack on Assange to seem balanced) – it matters not whether Assange is guilty or not of rape. The damage has been done to him as it has to the women.
The damage is not even that he will be seen as a pervert rapist even if innocent, that is a far lesser danger. Julian Assange himself has not done any favours in his attitude (one should remember he is a computer hacker, since when have these guys been apathetic smiling average people) but even then, it is obscene to suggest ones attitude is relevant to the leaking of 250,000 diplomatic cables. He is the editor-in-chief of an organization with a mission statement linked above that would not be made null, irrelevant, dated nomatter what the actions or supposed tenuously argued ‘intentions’ of Assange are — but this will not stop the damage.
The damage is done in that Wikileaks has been framed by the media >as< Julian Assange. The game is set, Julian Assange now has remarkably transformed from a person into an organization and is Wikileaks. When he does something wrong, it is Wikileaks doing it. If he has raped these two women, it will be Wikileaks who has raped them. The way the scope of discussion has narrowed almost completely should worry anyone still interested in serious discussion as to Wikileaks and the role of transparency in government. You can argue otherwise to a degree — but any ‘serious’ discussion (serious as in say, it’s in the Washington Post. Not serious as in actually serious.) involved mentions Julians attitude and somehow manages to link his attitude to some hypothetical pseudointellectual intentions which apparently ‘accurately describe’ what Wikileaks is trying to do.
Our society seems to praise idolatry and the worship of individuals over the worship of ideas, which is a very dangerous mindset to be in. Julian Assange is a man who believes in an idea, not the idea or principles behind that idea itself. Sounding true like what here in Australia I would be called a ‘wanker’ for saying as it sounds obscenely pseudointellectual; Ideas should not be able to be linked to mortal men for ideas are immortal. The further the scope narrows on tabloidesque interviews with Assange the less discussion as to the content of the cables will actually occur — and I can think of no better way for the US Government to get away scot-free once again than by the media relentlessly subtlety and subconciously linking Assanges personal life and behavior nomatter how awful they may be; to the principles of what Wikileaks is standing for in providing a haven for leakers to bring government and business accountable.
Let the judicial system deal with Assange and Assange deal with the judicial system, but do not let the outcome of one mans court case overshadow the importance of revealing an aggressive imperialist states inner workings when the opportunity for an apathetic public to actually become aware exists. There is a pattern throughout history of movements, groups and other social instruments that could have any effect having their leaders being focused on and disgraced, shamed or worse. I think the idea of change that occurs as a result of a differing mindset aided by Wikileaks, not Julian Assange single handedly giving speeches as he is turned either into an idol or a disgraced one, will be a far more potent tool.
There is a reason Dana Milbank says “Make Julian Assange Irrelevant” in his column in the Washington Post. Julian Assange may like attention, but the media loves giving it. The more attention paid to the individual Assange, the more the potential exists to eliminate the pesky problem of Wikileaks unsettling an established intellectual class of government apologists including journalists like those at the Washington Post and academics who make their lives out of revisionist history regarding their governments imperialist policies.
It’s been TWO days without any new Guardian news cable stories – according to Greg Mitchell of the Nation via Twitter – which is easily confirmed by browsing their website. Whats the wait?