Sunday, December 12, 2010

Nonviolence, transparency and the hatred for Wikileaks

Can we gain a bit of rational perspective on the ravening, howling bloodlust of those who have decided that Julian Assange is obviously the problem? Jeffrey Toobin, a legal analyst and journalist I've relied on for years to decipher and rationally explain the law has been bitten by one of the rabid corporado wolves and has in turn joined the pack, saying about Assange that, "he is well beyond sympathy from anyone I'm aware of."

Yoo-hoo! Jeffrey! Be aware of lots of us!

I don't expect Jeffrey Toobin will ever be aware of me, but I hope he's now aware of the computer experts who are punishing the corporations who have joined the effort to shut down Wikileaks. Amazon, Mastercard, Visa, Paypal and other corporations with whom Wikileaks has done business and who have ended their services to Wikileaks have in turn been under cyberattack from defenders of democracy.

Democracy? How is a cyberattack on Visa a defense of democracy?

Julian Assange and those who have gathered secret government and corporate documents and released them to media outlets (and please bear in mind that Wikileaks has not released much at all beyond that which the corporate media itself has released) are helping make government more transparent and, one might hope, more accountable. When we learn about the completely illegal conduct of the US military that ought to help us decide to rein them in. Instead, the government vilifies the messenger, Wikileaks and the founder, Julian Assange. When Assange is asked about the legitimacy of a US Secretary of State giving illegal orders and he responds, well, if she did then she should resign, why is that out of order?

Revealing information about misconduct is now espionage, according to many. We expect this authoritarianism from the rightwing pundits and politicians, but as Tom Hayden points out, the pack is growing to include more and more erstwhile liberals.

Gunning for the messenger is hardly a brave or rational approach. Let's slow down, actually investigate these revelations, and decide if the public has a right to learn about public policy. Many of us are so weary of the patriarchal militarism that we cannot and should not have a democracy because we are not in authority and we have no need to know nor right to know and, to complete the tautology, "If you knew what they knew, you'd understand why they need to do what they are doing."

Ultimately, Wikileaks goes to the heart of why violence is undemocratic. Violence breeds secrecy, violence indeed mandates secrecy, and nonviolence, which is based on transparency, is far more healthy for democracy. Indeed, nonviolence and democracy are effectively twinned and are coevolving. Sadly, violence and secrecy have long coevolved and we see it manifesting in the lies about Wikileaks that refuse to die, even when exposed again and again, what Glenn Greenwald calls zombie lies. Wikileaks makes these documents available to corporate media, corporate media publishes some of them, and corporate media is immune to attack, yet Assange is targeted.

There are so many new pieces of the truth that it will take a good while to sort it all out. At least let's thank Julian Assange for starting to peel away some of the veils and knock down some of the walls, and let's defend him.

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