Saturday, December 18, 2010

I cannot like Julian Assange

The liberal blogosphere and various liberal commentators (see Michael Moore and Keith Olbermann) hail Julian Assange, the Wikileaks guy, as a hero who is just doing what a good journalist would do - if there were any good journalists left. They excoriate the judicial system of Sweden for insisting that Assange must face the charges of rape that have been lodged against him by two women. The charges are all political, they cry. I doubt it.

I don't think women are generally thinking in a political way when they charge a man with rape and I see no reason to believe that Assange's accusers were. So what were the Swedish authorities to do? Ignore the complaints? Sweep it all under the rug? It's what happens in all too many countries of the world today with crimes against women and I'm very much afraid that it happens all too often in this country. But not, apparently, in Sweden.

So Keith Olbermann has been in high dudgeon all week railing and fulminating, as he is wont to do on his Countdown program, about the injustice of Assange being locked up. He's had his good buddy Michael Moore on a few times so that they can fulminate and sigh loudly together. My personal instinct, although I can't prove it, is that there is more than a little misogyny in their rantings. This, I admit, is fueled by my memory of how Olbermann treated the candidacy of Hillary Clinton in such a contemptuous and condescending manner back in 2008 when he was madly in love with Barack Obama and Obama could do no wrong. (Of course, now, to hear him tell it, Obama can do no right!)

Olbermann tweeted incessantly about the Assange case until he started getting pushback from advocates for rape victims. Then all of a sudden we hear that he is suspending his Twitter account until "the frenzy" dies down! Yep, he can dish it out but he can't take it.

Meanwhile, his partner in fulmination, Michael Moore, continues to produce heated pieces for sites like Huffington Post insisting that the rape charges are all a conspiracy run by the U.S. government to silence Wikileaks. Does he have proof of this? Not so that I can see. It's just one of those things that "everyone (i.e., all liberals) knows." Well, I'm a liberal and I don't know that at all.

Frankly, I cannot like Julian Assange. He seems a bit of a narcissistic jerk to me. (In fact, I could say the same thing of Olbermann and Moore.) As for the Wikileaks leaks, perhaps I am just dense, but I can't see that much good has been accomplished by them and perhaps relations between some countries have been damaged by them, for no good reason. There are times when leaks are an appropriate response to government actions (See the Pentagon Papers) but these Wikileakers seem to leak simply because they can. I cannot see any moral purpose being served by their actions.

The leaks, of course, are a separate issue from the rape charges, however much Assange and his rabid (mostly male) supporters seek to conflate and confuse them. Even if one supports his actions in leaking government documents and believes him to be a hero for that, one should insist that he face the charges of rape that have been lodged against him and, if they are found to be true, that justice be served on him.

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