In Sweden there is an ongoing debate right now on wether or not the Swedish Pirate Party is abandoning Julian Assange. In an effort to explain why I personally haven’t participated in his defense as much as perhaps would have been expected, I wrote an article here at my blog in Swedish, and provide a translation below. Pardon any grammatical or spelling errors. //emma
I often say that I find it very difficult to write about Julian Assange, since it tends to bring loads of inconsequential crap with it. When doing a search here on the blog, however, it turned out that I have made several attempts to touch the subjekt. More often than I actually thought, surprisingly enough, since I feel myself turn somewhat self-censoring on the subject.
I have simply felt that there is no room for me to be nuanced or find varying approaches, as I am usually met with either-or-arguments. I’m sorry, but it is the same as asking me to stop thinking. If what is required from me means unconditional loyalty without my own thoughts, I am not the person to turn to — my potential silence is the only option in this case.
Although I emotionally avoid the subject (even if it turned out to be different in reality) I now once again try to tackle it. Ivan Jonsson has written a few posts where he describes his impression that the Swedish Pirate Party has been dangerously quiet in regards of showing support for Julian Assange in particular. I think he has a few good points. I also believe that he is quite aware of the complexity behind it, as I tried to describe in his comment field. His take was somewhat encouraging, and I wanted to draw attention to it.
But after a few days of reflection on the subject it’s become clear to me: I personally can not give my undivided, uncritical support for Julian Assange. I can’t, as somewhere along the way, I got burnt. Because each time the subject came up I was treated with arguments about how horrible women are. Hatred seemed to push this issue, not care about humanity and democracy. It’s a rock and a hardplace-kind of a choice, that I’m not comfortable with.
Don’t get me wrong, I am equally committed to a proper treatment as anybody else in terms of the political and judicial aspects. But “anybody else” in this case has made it very difficult for me to push any public opinion. I admit straight off the bat, that this is an emotional choice, which can be backtracked to hurtful discussions regarding my gender, that I have found myself been pulled into. This should not be construed as a recommendation of strategy to the Swedish Pirate Party, but rather a full disclosure about why I, personally, just don’t have the stamina.
I thought at least I’d try to break down what I feel is important in this matter:
Wikileaks is very important to protect, along with the new organizations that cropped up that provides the same kind of service, so that the citizens who use them are protected. In principle, it is even the technology, in extension, which contains the “real” protective value, not the organization itself. A society scores dramatically low on the democracy-meeter, the moment citizens are unable to blow the whistle on authorities, by fear of reprisals. Journalistic work is rendered impossible today from that point of view (in Sweden), as we have the FRA-law, and not inte the least considering the data retention directive, that is in the pipeline, and we therefore desperately need these kind of services.
A leader of an organization can’t be more important than the organization in itself basically, in the long run, even if there are serious nuances to consider: Who would start a service like this, if they are threatened and persecuted, is an example of why it is important to protect an initiator. A leader who behaves badly, and sabotage the movement because of self-interest is another example of why a leader should _not_ be more important than the organization. (And both examples can be used to hord supporters in either direction, of course, a good enough reason to keep a cool head, but also highlights the importance of why the technology’s availability might even be more important than the issue at hand.)
Then there are other stray thoughts that bounce around in my head. This is a fantastic opportunity to be noticed, for instance. Lawyers, judges, professors, etc. exploit Julian Assange fully, to make a name for themselves, while of course Assange in turn exploit that to the best of his ability, to keep the light on him. Both natural and a bit distasteful, I’d say. A vicious cycle, or something.
Furthermore, it is terrible that Bradley Manning is in prison under torture-like conditions. Without even the opportunity to a fair trial. This is another aspect of when “too much” of the focus is on one person, as I see it. On the other hand, I certainly do not blame people for choosing their battles: I do exactly that myself.
Judging by the discussions, I do not think my thoughts on this subject are satisfactory to that many. But this is at least how I feel right now, until something happens that convinces me to change my mind. For I have not stopped following Wikileaks, what is written about Assange, and what people think about it. It is one of the most important contemporary issues we have today, particularily when regarded from a wider perspective.