By Dan Hodges –
They just can’t help themselves. Today it’s John Pilger in the New Statesman: “The pursuit of Julian Assange is an assault on freedom and a mockery of journalism”.
Tony Benn: “the charges are that it was a non-consensual relationship. Well that’s very different from rape”. Galloway: “Even taken at its worst, if the allegations made by these two women were true, 100 per cent true, and even if a camera in the room captured them, they don’t constitute rape”. Pilger: “Swedish case documents, including the text messages of the women involved, demonstrated to any fair minded person the absurdity of the sex allegations”.
I haven’t been privy to all the Swedish case documents: documents which, let’s not forget, are the basis of an approved extradition request. But I have read the High Court ruling, in particular the following section which is from one of Assange’s accusers, a women identified only as AA: “Mr Assange wanted to insert his penis into her vagina, but she did not want him to do that as he was not using a condom. She therefore squeezed her legs together in order to avoid him penetrating her. She tried to reach several times for a condom which Mr Assange had stopped her from doing by holding her arms and bending her legs open and trying to penetrate her with his penis without a condom”.
It’s for a Swedish court to decide whether what is described above represent a true description of the events, and whether they in turn constitute a crime. But to my mind they go beyond what George Galloway described as nothing more than “bad sexual etiquette”. Nor can I see any “absurdity” in the allegations. Or the difference between what is alleged and the “the seizure by force of a woman for gratification of a man’s need”, which is Tony Benn’s preferred definition of rape.
But perhaps that’s because I’m not looking at this issue through the same warped prism as Assange’s supporters. People like Craig Murray who went on Newsnight and named one of Assange’s alleged victims. Or Seumas Milne, who this week stated that it was “hardly surprising that sceptics have raised the links with US-funded anti-Cuban opposition groups of one of those [women] making the accusations”; though to be fair to Milne, he does at least have the good grace to acknowledge “None of that should detract from the seriousness of the rape allegations made against Assange, for which he should clearly answer.”
Sadly, their hero is unlikely to be answering anything at the moment, given that he has opted to lock himself away in the Ecuadorean embassy. But that doesn’t bother the Assange apologists. They believe that by publishing a series of leaked US government cables, their man has made himself above the law. Never mind that the request for his extradition had been affirmed, confirmed and reaffirmed by three independent UK courts. Never mind that it is Sweden, regularly and religiously worshipped as the cradle of liberal social democracy, that has made the request for that extradition. It’s about WikiLeaks. And WikiLeaks supersedes all.
Belittling the crime of rape. Smearing the alleged victims of rape. Naming them. This isn’t coming from the pages or voices of the far Right. This is from the self-styled standard-bearers of the Left. Have they lost their minds?
In a word, yes. They have become infected by some form of ideological virus; a sickness. Blinded by their hatred of the United States, the establishment in general and their almost juvenile excitement at “the biggest leak of secret government documents in history”, they are greedily hurling everything they once professed to hold dear onto a bonfire of their own vanity.
Remember, these are not Twitter warriors we’re talking about. It’s Members of Parliament; award-winning journalists; a former ambassador.
It is a staggering, sickening spectacle. I’m so transfixed with morbid curiosity I don’t know where to look. Do we point to the sheer hypocrisy of those who have spent years banging on about the need for “war criminals” like Tony Blair to be brought to book, but now so casually discard the validity of an international extradition warrant? Should we focus on the way this clique of supposed “internationalists” has become so tiny that they are now deaf even to the cries of the dwindling band of fellow travellers who are begging them to see the damage they are doing to the Great Cause? Or should we instead simply concentrate on the absence of basic humanity that prevents the Assange booster-club from even entertaining the possibility that two women could have been sexually violated, and that they at least deserve to have their claims investigated via due judicial process?
Maybe none of those things. Perhaps we should just stand back and reflect on the greatest irony of the Julian Assange and WikiLeaks affair. His supporters told us this was the moment a bright light would be shone into the darkest recesses of global power politics. When we would finally peer deep into the blackened souls of our global rulers.
But in fact it isn’t the Tony Blairs and George Bushes who have been exposed by this whole squalid business. It’s the Pilgers and the Murrays and the Galloways and the Milnes. It’s their values and character that are now on trial. And unlike their hero Assange, they have nowhere to run or hide.
New York Times