Where You Stand on Julian Assange is Now the Litmus Test
Where you stand on Julian Assange is now a litmus test such as has not been seen since the Iraq War, which was itself a litmus test such as had not been seen since the Miners’ Strike. If you are not for us, then you are against us. If you are not one of us, then you are one of them.
Led by Stella Creasy and Jess Phillips, those who have already failed that test have declared their desire to criminalise male heterosexual activity per se, with no defence to that charge, but with the understanding that there would at least ordinarily be no prosecution unless the female party complained. If they took any other view, then they would no more advocate the extradition of Assange to Sweden than they would advocate that an adulterer or a homosexual be extradited to Brunei.
This case has also shed some much-needed light on this country’s scandalously one-sided extradition arrangements with the United States. They can get pretty much anyone from the United Kingdom simply by issuing a demand, while we cannot get anyone at all from them. Those arrangements need to be repealed.
More people have been arrested for reporting the war crimes in Iraq than for having committed them. And do you remember when seven years and millions of pounds were spent chasing the people who had crashed the economy? No, neither do I. The permanent American State, rather than the Administration of the day, is still pursuing the Russiagate hoax even after it has been completely blown out of the water. Carole’s Codswallop is also a small subplot, so to speak, within that, and it is also still being pursued. But Hillary Clinton lost. Remain lost. Get over it.
They have not got over it in the House of Commons. A House comprised mostly of the same people cheered a war in 2015. And that House cheered this, too. It cheered the fact that Assange was going to be extradited to his death. In the words of the indictment, “Wikileaks solicited submissions” even though Assange did not “possess security clearance”. The cheering of this by MPs and by Lobby “journalists” said everything that needed to be said about both of them.
Yet when the Daily Telegraph published the MPs’ expenses, then it published what it knew to be stolen Government information, information for which, in that knowledge, it had paid. The Guardian acquired its American audience, and found itself garlanded with honours, when it reproduced the revelations of Julian Assange. And so on. The likes of The Guardian, The New York Times, Channel 4 News and the BBC swapped sides only when the line became that Wikileaks had had a part in the defeat of Hillary Clinton.
Seen in that context, it is not a coincidence that the previously abandoned rape charge in Sweden looks set to be revived. But so what? Even if Assange were a murderer, then he would be highly unlikely to have murdered as many people as George Bush, or Tony Blair, or David Cameron, or John Howard, to name but a few. There is no evidence against him in Sweden, and what was alleged against him there would not have been illegal almost anywhere else, including here. It has already had to be dropped once. But what if he were indeed guilty of what would have been, after all, a crime where he did it? Again I ask, would we extradite adulterers or homosexuals to Brunei? And there would still be no way of suggesting, either that bad sexual etiquette was worse than the crimes that he had exposed, or that bad sexual etiquette was worse than the exposure of those crimes.
If the claims about Assange’s recent behaviour are true, then he has understandably developed mental health problems. But apparently, it is now acceptable to mock mental health problems, just so long as you are mocking an enemy of the Empire. Meanwhile, not a dicky bird about the $4.2 billion loan to Ecuador from the IMF, but instead a puff piece on Lenín Moreno in The Economist on the very day of Assange’s arrest. The blue ticks are running around Twitter, making this about the supposed uselessness of Jeremy Corbyn, who now has a consistent lead in the polls.
Apart from their desire to be on television instead of Corbyn or Diane Abbott, and apart from their apparent inability to spell correctly the names of other signatories to an attack on Julian Assange, what motivates the likes of Creasy and Phillips? The only lasting legacy of the #MeToo lynch mob will be the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh, whose record on any one of torture, Guantánamo Bay, mass surveillance, workers’ rights, consumer protection, environmental responsibility, treaties with Native American tribes, and healthcare for people with pre-existing conditions, ought to have seen him blocked by all Democrats and by enough Republicans. Joe Biden is complicit in war crimes. That, and not anything #MeToo-related, is why he is unfit to become the President of the United States. Sniffing the hair of a white woman is not worse than blowing the head off a brown woman. Although that would come as news to Creasy, Phillips and their co-signatories, whose argument against Assange is more or less exactly that.
The all-women shortlist system, of which Creasy and Phillips are beneficiaries, has done more than anything else to turn the Parliamentary Labour Party from 50 per cent Broad Left in 1994 to 85 per cent Hard Right today. The changes to the British economy since the Callaghan Government’s turn to monetarism in 1977 have turned into the ruling class the public sector middle-class women who dominate the PLP, while the wars waged since 1997 have barely affected them, having largely been waged for explicitly feminist reasons, albeit to no good effect for the women of Afghanistan, and to catastrophic effect for the women of Iraq and Libya.
A position of being anti-industrial at home but pro-war abroad is ridiculous in itself, and bespeaks a total lack of comprehension of how wars are fought. But those MPs are Thatcher’s Daughters, unable to understand the rage against deindustrialisation and against the harvesting of young men in endless, pointless wars, and probably unaware of a growing number of young men’s closely connected discovery for themselves of the various schools of heterodox economics, and of the traditional Great Books that, for ostensibly if questionably feminist reasons, have been excluded from school and university curricula.
It is possible to detect a connected failure to appreciate that life is the geological force that shapes the Earth, and that the emergence of human cognition fundamentally transforms the biosphere, not least by the uniquely human phenomenon of economic growth, so that human mastery of nuclear processes is beginning to create resources through the transmutation of elements, enabling us, among other things, to explore space and to exploit the resources of the Solar System. Instead, Mother Gaia reigns supreme, and we are expected to fight wars for Her even while, under Her petticoats, we shiver and starve in the dark.
Another hung Parliament is coming, however, and we need our people to hold the balance of power in it.
Opinion by David Lindsay / Creative Commons / Off-Guardian
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