Julian Assange, the public face of WikiLeaks, is, among many things, cowardly. Courageousness would involve meeting with Iranian dissidents, Russian journalists, Pakistani Christians, or Chinese human-rights activists — and then releasing any confidential information that they might have about the torment institutionalized by their countries’ authoritarian regimes. That would be risky to Assange, however, since such governments do not customarily go to court against their leakers; they gulag them — or liquidate them.
So, instead, Assange navigates through the European northwest among the good-life elites whose economic and security protocols he does so much to undermine. Being summoned to a trumped-up Swedish hearing for being an exploitative cad who fails to wear a condom in his ephemeral hook-ups is not the same thing as being dragged into the basement of the Pakistani intelligence service or appearing in an orange jumpsuit on an al-Qaeda execution video. Why does not the peripatetic Assange at least drive about, say, the back roads of the Middle East, Mexico, or Central Africa in his quest for conduits to spread cosmic truth and justice?
In truth, Assange is a sorry product of the postmodern West. He reminds us of the morality of Western shock artists who freely caricature Christianity on the hallowed principle of free speech, but, in a nano-second, censor themselves when Islam might provide an even larger target for their cynical secular disdain. WikiLeaks is the journalistic equivalent of a Piss Christ
exhibition of the contemporary art world — a repellent reminder of the cowardly selectivity of the shock-jock huckster.
Julian Assange is without principles. He seems to think leaking confidential communications proves that the vast right-wing military-industrial-financial complex is harming either the most affluent, free Western population in the history of civilization or the globalized world itself — one that has done more to eliminate poverty and extend freedom in the last two decades than had been done at any other time in recorded history. We know from Climategate that the world’s green scientists are every bit as conniving, petty, and mean-spirited as any American diplomat. I would like to see the secret communications that buzz back and forth among Hollywood agents, producers, and financiers to learn of the real criteria that led to box-office bombs like Redacted and Rendition being written, cast, financed, and made. Maybe to calibrate the level of sincerity and honesty among our movers and shakers, we can read the minutes of Harvard or Yale tenure committees, some correspondence from the minions of George Soros, or the communications of the U.N. secretary general — or, better yet, the encrypted e-mail transcripts of exchanges among the WikiLeaks board. Apparently Assange thinks that confidentiality is trafficked only among the suspicious Western ruling classes, while dissidents like himself are fueled instead by “truth.” But if a man cannot be honest with a woman during intimacy, what can he be honest about? — whoops, one should not rush to an Assange-like judgment on the basis of gossip and innuendo; one should wait until the suspicious personage has had his day in court.