Tuesday, 11 December 2012

In which I RANT about Wikileaks Twitter Feed and Assange supporters

Make no mistake. This is a rant. But I am really, really cross.

This week the Wikileaks Twitter account decided to take umbrage that the Guardian had put Malala Youasafzi up as one of the people you could vote for in their person of the year poll. They encouraged followers to go on and vote for Bradley Manning, who won. Of course, this is free poll so it’s fine to say you want someone to win. What isn’t fine is to be dismissive about the case of a fourteen year-old girl who risked her life for the rights of girls to go to school, simply because you don’t like the Guardian. But that’s exactly what Wikileaks did. 

Before going on this weird anti-Guardian rant about how they were trying to fix the vote so that it suits their ‘pro-war’ agenda.

This, in case we forgot, is the Guardian who printed the Wikileaks cables until Wikileaks named sources, has printed articles defending Assange regarding rape allegations multiple times, who even published a long and extensive interview with Assange this week, and who ran a poll where Manning was judged person of the year (which is cool BTW, Manning should have recognition, not least for the awful treatment he has received in the USA). 

But despite all of this coverage, the Guardian is like totes part of a media conspiracy INTENT on silencing Assange and his supporters. 

Anyway, it’s the tweets about Malala that made me angry. It’s the statement that she was ‘reportedly shot in the head’ – a ‘report’ that apparently meant she has been exploited by the pro-war lobby and gave the Guardian another opportunity to write on the ‘evils’ of the Taliban. It’s made me angry. It all hangs on that word to me, ‘reportedly’. 

Malala was not ‘reportedly’ shot. She was shot. She was shot because she believes that girls like her have the right to an education – an education and a future that the Taliban would deny her. Let’s get this absolutely straight. She was shot by a group of adult men who are so scared of girls getting an education that they respond with attempted murder. Malala is brave. She is an outstanding young woman who has been vilely attacked for standing up for girls’ and women’s rights to freedom of speech. 

Well DONE Wikileaks! Well done for classing what happened to her as nothing more than something to be exploited by the pro war lobby. Well done for diminishing her bravery and the violence done to her by using the words ‘reportedly shot’. Well done for deciding that her courage and her campaigning work and the shots that were fired are just fuel for more anti-Taliban propaganda. And well done for casting everyone who believes Malala is a ‘person of the year’ as being part of the pro war lobby. 

Malala put her safety on the line to stand up for what she believed in. At the age of 14 she was shot for standing up for what she believed in. She wasn’t ‘reportedly’ shot. That tweet was pathetic, a pathetic attempt to undermine her bravery and the terrible violence committed against her just to fuel a further pathetic vendetta against the Guardian. I mean, for fuck’s sake.  

Bradley Manning is in jail, suffering terrible privations for taking a stand too. 

Julian Assange is in the Ecuadorian Embassy hiding away from rape and sexual assault allegations. 

I don’t particularly want to delve into the ins and outs of the legalese of Assange’s rape case. I’ve done it before. But whenever I see or hear his supporters I start to wonder. I mean, Galloway? Bullies on Twitter calling Emma Kennedy a ‘fucking retard’? John Pilger hectoring us on how Julia Gillard isn’t feminist whilst denying women’s voices at the same time? A former ambassador ignoring that we don’t name rape complainants? A TV station controlled by a dictator? A President who enjoys cracking down on the freedom of the press? Galloway? I mean, wow. With friends like these…

Do you know which people don’t believe women when they talk about violence committed against them, or who name rape survivors, or who minimise violence against women such as a girl being shot? Not very nice people, that’s who. It seems that for all their so-called liberal lefty credentials, Assange supporters have a lot in common with Daily Mail columnists. You know, people who believe that rape can’t happen when two people are ‘in the sex game’. People who believe that women routinely lie about rape. 

In this weekend’s interview with Assange, the rape allegations are brushed aside, quite literally:

Leaving aside the two women in Sweden who were once his admirers and now allege rape and sexual assault,”

The subject is briefly returned to when Assange says that he would go to Sweden if they assured him he wouldn’t be extradited to the USA. As has been pointed out many times, Sweden cannot give that assurance – beyond the fact that Sweden will not extradite anyone to face the death penalty or on political charges. 

I personally hope that Assange is not extradited to the US. I don’t believe anyone should be extradited to a country that has the death penalty, full stop. I disagree with the UK having an extradition agreement with the US on this basis. What I do hope, what I think so many of us want, is for him to go to Sweden and face the rape allegations, so that justice can be done. Justice for the women, which also means justice for him. 

I don’t understand how people can continue to defend Assange. I really don’t. Look at yesterday. “Reportedly shot”. Those words attempt to diminish a terrible crime against a young girl who simply wants freedom and education. Then there was the encouraged online bullying of a critic. And don’t forget the solidarity sent his way by men who don’t call it rape when a woman is asleep, who bombastically redefine the law around consent. This behaviour, this defence – it’s not maverick, it’s not cool. It’s the same old misogyny, the same old rape apologism, the same old victim blaming, the same old silencing. It’s embarrassing.  

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