It is deeply embarrassing to me that Ecuador, a tiny nation with little power, had to step in and do the job that Australia should have done for Assange.
Just once I’d like a chance to feel proud of my country. Assange has committed no crimes, nobody has seen a single shred of evidence that he was ever colluding with Russia, and he has brought the light of truth to many parts of the world with nothing to show for it but years of wrongful imprisonment while his children grew up hearing his name smeared with lies. Among the many great men and women that our nation has produced, none shine brighter than he.
My readers sometimes ask me why I write so much about the American government. This is why. I write about the American government because my nation has no government of its own. We sit here a cowardly, snivelling vassal state, staring at the floor and doing as we’re told while our midget cousin Ecuador stands up to our bully and fights our battles for us.
The US government tortures whistleblowers. Assange needs protection before their ghouls sink their claws into him forever. He’s our man and he will not see justice if they get to him.
We Australians do not have a very clear sense of ourselves; if we did we would never have stood for Assange’s persecution in the first place. We tend to form our national identity in terms of negatives, by the fact that we are not British and are not American, without any clear image about what we are. A bunch of white prisoners got thrown onto a gigantic island rich with ancient indigenous culture, we killed most of the continent’s inhabitants and degraded and exploited the survivors, and now we’re just kind of standing around drinking tea as the dust settles saying, “Hmm… well, we’re not stuck-up like the Brits, and we’re not entitled like the Yanks.”
That’s pretty much our entire nation right now. A beautiful continent where the Aboriginal Dreamtime has been paved over with suburbs and shopping centres. We are a warm and charitable people, we value family and community, but we’ve got no sense of who we are and what it means to be Australian.
If the Australian government stepped in to protect one of its own journalists from being persecuted by the powerful empire that has dragged us into war after war and turned us into an asset of the US war/intelligence machine…well, as an Australian it makes me tear up just thinking about it. It has been absolutely humiliating watching my beloved country being degraded and exploited by the sociopathic agendas of America’s ruling elites, up to and including the imprisonment and isolation of one of our own, all because he helped share authentic, truthful documents exposing the depraved behaviors of those same ruling elites. I have had very few reasons to feel anything remotely resembling patriotism lately. If Australia brought Assange home, this would change.
We try sometimes; there are attempts to uplift Australian art and culture which we call Australiana. I remember going to “bush dances” as a kid where old-timey settler music was played and everyone pretended to have some kind of connection with it.
Because of our background we’ve been like the home schooled teenager going to high school for the first time and instantly being absorbed into a bad crowd because she didn’t understand the social dynamics.
Nowadays the closest non-Aboriginal thing you ever see to a display of Australian identity typically involves Southern Cross tattoos, thuggishness, Islamophobia, and a desire to continue the cruel warehousing of human beings on Manus Island. That is plainly gross, and the Aboriginal people now hold their culture secret and close to their chests for completely understandable reasons, so what else is there? What else could there be that could begin to unite us as a people so we can begin to develop a little collective pride and cease allowing ourselves to be used as a tool of sociopathic imperialists?
Well, there’s Julian Assange. He’s something positive that we can all fight for, a clear force of good in the world that we can unify around as we begin a slow, sloppy, completely necessary divorce from the cancer of empire.
Assange confuses Americans in the same way Mountain Dew confuses me. Americans don’t have any cultural hook-ups for the kind of creature he is. In the same way that Mountain Dew looks, tastes, smells and feels like poison to me, they can’t tell if he’s right wing or left, if he’s a hero or a villain, or what motivates him. They don’t trust him because they don’t know what they’re looking at. As someone who grew up around the same time, in the same area, and in similar social circles to him, it seems very obvious to me what he is. And what he is is very Australian.
There are some fundamental values that we grew up with as seventies children in Australia. There was the value of “do the right thing,” the value of “giving everyone a fair go”, and the value of “keeping the bastards honest.” These were key and oft-repeated phrases in my childhood during the seventies and eighties. Remember, we were small when there was a CIA/MI6 coup in our country and our parents were implored by the ousted Prime Minister Gough Whitlam to “maintain the rage” at the unforgivable attack on our democratic sovereignty. That’s in my living memory. When Julian and I were small, anti-establishment sentiment was at its loudest.
We have an inbuilt distrust of authority and a deep hatred of empire which probably stems from our convict roots, and then from the ongoing waves of refugees who were running from famine, wars and despotism. Aside from the indigenous population, we are a country full of people who were forced by empire to come here in one way or another. So we don’t like authority much and we instinctively cut people down before they get too powerful. This is why the unions are still strong and social programs are such a natural fit for us. We like things to be fair. We like everyone to have a say.
Julian Assange’s work is an embodiment of all those values. The initial innovative use of technology to create WikiLeaks, the belief in openness and transparency, the desire to democratize information for the good of the whole, and the joy in keeping the bastards honest — all of that is very Australian.
His work is extraordinary. Never has a single innovation brought power to its knees in such a short amount of time. In an inverted totalitarian system where the ability to suck resources from the people is hidden under a veil of propaganda, the ability to rip through the veil of spin and government opacity is a powerful tool indeed. In just a little over a decade he has managed to make himself the most wanted man alive by the most powerful people on earth. That’s how effective WikiLeaks has been in bringing truth to power.
And those in power don’t like him, and of course they use their propaganda machine to obfuscate who he is and what he is doing, but his actions tell his story even through the fog of the spin machine. His relentless drive to publish the truth no matter which side of the aisle it’s about, whichever powerful faction it is going to piss off, and how that’s going to impact his own living situation says everything you need to know about Julian Assange. He keeps publishing even when it’s clearly to his own personal detriment. He cares less about himself than he does about the truth getting out there. That tells me everything I need to know.
And every day of his detention proves his theory correct. He is keeping the bastards honest and because they aren’t honest, they don’t like it one bit.
Bringing Julian Assange home could be the first step to giving ourselves a bright, shining image of who we are and what we stand for. At the moment, Australia is a lifeless vassal state hooked up to the US power establishment with our every orifice and resource being used to feed the corporatist empire. Anesthetized to the eyeballs and in a state of total submission, the return of Julian might just be the little spark we need to get the old ticker pumping for itself again. Finally standing up for ourselves, for what’s right, and for the things that Julian stands for might just be the very thing we need as a nation to discover who we really are.
Bring him home. It’s time.
A comment from Matthew Norman Davies
Imagine if instead Assange had been busted for trafficking massive commercial quantities of H/smack into Indonesia and Hong Kong, and for playing thug to coerce younger heavily indebted Australians to do the same. There would have been blanket media support and candle-lit vigils of pious “humanitarian” virtue signalling about “the value of human life” by practically all parliamentarians and the rest of their Bourbon-lawyer class throughout metropolitan Australia, praising said hypothetical thug-dealer Assange while vilifying a neighboring country’s sovereignty and legal system.
Hillary Clinton suggests (repeatedly) Assange’s extra-judicial murder by Predator drone and Hellfire missile because Assange helped prepare the exposure of a monumental scale of anti-democratic fraud, global war crimes and vast other, related criminality around Hillary and her network of creepy crawlies. The response here in Australia? Pretend it didn’t happen, and keep deferring to London-Wall Street