The Corner

Why Is Jonah Goldberg Still [Fill In the Blank]?

About every half hour or so, I get another e-mail from someone either mimicking a left-wing blogger or coming up with this “clever” formulation on their own. It’s a reference to my Julian Assange column in which I asked the question: “Why Is Julian Assange Still Alive?” 

Apparently, a significant number of people think I am more deserving of killing than Assange, which is revealing in itself.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Some have taken to saying my column was a call for Assange’s assassination, even though I explicitly said otherwise. Others claim I was being cowardly in not calling for his assassination and my column was in fact a dog-whistle call for something I didn’t have the courage to endorse openly. Both interpretations involve piles of projection. The point of the column can be found where the point of most columns resides: in the second half, which you can read yourself.

Shorter version: both the left and the right have an overly dramatic understanding of what our intelligence agencies do and can do. On the right we have Jack Bauer and Blackford Oakes; on the left we have Jason Bourne and Oliver Stone’s JFK. Additionally, while it’s politically palatable to kill a member of al-Qaeda, “assassinating a hipster Australian Web guru as opposed to a Muslim terrorist is the kind of controversy no official dares invite.” Does anyone dispute this?

Regardless, what I find amazing is how so many of these fulminating free-speech lovers seem to think that Assange is not only a journalist but a hero. Indeed, one gets the distinct impression that what offends is any casting of Assange as a bad guy. But of course he’s a bad guy. And the idea that he’s a journalist is a joke. Perhaps it would be easier to see this if Assange were giving all of these documents solely to the Iranian government. But he’s not doing that. He’s giving these documents to the Iranians, and al-Qaeda, and the Chinese, and the Russians and everyone else. So — abracadabra! — that makes him a hero! What nonsense.

I am at a loss as to how so many of the same people who claimed that the alleged “outing” of Valerie Plame makes her one of the greatest victim-martyr-heroes of the last few decades (here’s the movie trailer!) and Karl Rove & Co. treasonous bastards, can simultaneously celebrate a guy who is potentially exposing an army of Valerie Plames on a near monthly basis.

Was I too glib in my column? Eh, maybe. Professional hazard. But a great number of my critics are being willfully idiotic, not only because they’re misreading it, but because they’re rushing to the defense of someone who is doing something indefensible. Or should I say it’s indefensible if you actually care about American national security.

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