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Never Trust the Government

August 18, 2012

I have twenty five minutes to drink a beer and write a scathing op-ed piece. Let’s see how this goes.

Julian Assange is not only a journalist, not only unlawfully persecuted by several governments, but in my eyes an Australian and international hero. While the New York Times is busy running articles about how he once acted badly towards some person’s cat, or how he does not always flush toilets, Assange can safely rest on his laurels by actually holding governments accountable – which, if you’re unaware, is and always will be the central element of journalism. Yet apparently we are to be told to never mind that the cables bravely released by Bradley Manning (allegedly) inspired revolutions in the Middle East, never mind that these cables revealed compromising facts about many heads of state, with special regard to their desire to conceal information from the public, no no no, one must understand that journalists today are to instead act as stenographers. It does not matter what the facts are, it simply matters what politicians and officials have said. After all, politicians always work in the interest of the public, no?

Putting aside Watergate, the ‘children overboard’ affair, the entire Iraq war, the current posturing towards Iran, the tacit support of the Saudi regime by all Western governments, financial deregulation that has crippled the world economy about ten times since 1980, the false although sadly lawful detention of Dr Haneef, and that whole killing most of the indigenous populations in every country ever thing that happened, the contrived nature of Assange’s extradition is painfully obvious. These two women, the names of whom we still have no idea thanks to bizarre Swedish sexual assault laws, had their cases thrown out by several prosecutors, until finally they were accepted. While this isn’t the most significant point, it does represent the fact that their claims are perhaps not the most viable, and shame on any self-described feminist who claims that Assange is an alleged rapist, and that this is just men getting away with rape. This has nothing to do with rape. Regardless; the Swedish government eventually calls for Assange’s extradition. The next day, they drop it, only to be rekindled several weeks later. Is it so completely unimaginable that perhaps they were under the pressure from foreign governments, particularly the most powerful state in existence, of which several representatives have called for Assange to be executed, and almost all others claim that he has committed crimes against them. Is this so completely unimaginable? Particularly as after the release of the Iraq war cables (which have cost us how many lives precisely? Whose lives were endangered?) the Swedish government issues an international arrest warrant, a step above their previous demands.

But yet, there remains this idea that no, this is just simply the natural process of government; Assange isn’t under any kind of international manhunt at all, what an egotist! Call me paranoid, but when a foreign government launches missiles at other nations without even knowing who they’re striking at (apparently if you’re male, Arab and of military age then you count as a legitimate target; they’re titled ‘Signature Strikes’), and then this policy is defended by the Attorney-General based on a reading of the Constitution that claims “due process is not judicial process” – after all, if the Founding Fathers were about anything, they were about despotic power concentrated in the hands of a few, unaccountable to any kind of electorate, legislative or judicial body – then I think it’s time to be scared. Particularly when this is all done by an administration that has prosecuted more whistle-blowers than every other administration combined in the history of the United States itself; not an exaggeration, simply fact. Of course though, Assange did once do a dookie and not flush, so perhaps he deserves it.

Oh and let’s not mention the fact that Bradley Manning was held under torturous conditions – that’s not my assessment, that’s just some crazy left-wing organisation called the UN – for almost two years without a trial. Well actually, let me correct myself: the trial has gone ahead, but he’s still imprisoned for what Julia Gillard herself described as an illegal act. And then we find out today that Australian diplomats are well aware that Assange might be extradited to the US, especially given how they have a bilateral extradition treaty with Sweden. But governments, corrupt? Not working in the interest of their own citizens? Taking political prisoners? Never! It’s all just a conspiracy.

People ask why patriotism doesn’t exist anymore. Perhaps because we keep on locking them all up. This man is an Australian hero, and a patriot. Patriotism means supporting your country and its people always, and your government when it deserves it. The Gillard government and Obama Administration do not deserve your support.

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