Maybe Wikileaks and Julian Assange Aren’t That Bad?

This post might be the most rebellious of all the posts I’ve written. Maybe because it came about from a discussion with my oldest son, who in his younger years was known to rebel.

My son’s take on Julian Assange is that it doesn’t matter who he is, why he is doing this, or his past. What matters is that our leaders are doing things that are wrong, maybe illegal, and exposing them is not a bad thing. He doesn’t buy the argument that it puts our soldiers lives in danger. He says that is what they always say, but when has a soldier died because we discovered things like this? He also asked why the administration didn’t work with Assange to redact the possible dangerous information? Assange agreed to do that, but they refused. They didn’t want any of it published. Which is understandable, but when you know it’s going to happen anyway, wouldn’t you do what you can to limit the danger to our troops? Also, my son seems to think the media is focusing way too much on Assange and his personal life. Why don’t they focus more on what the cables say about how our government and other governments operate?

All good questions that got me to thinking. Then I read this piece on Assange. It’s very long. But fascinating.

Let’s start with why Assange is doing what he is doing:

“To radically shift regime behavior we must think clearly and boldly for if we have learned anything, it is that regimes do not want to be changed. We must think beyond those who have gone before us, and discover technological changes that embolden us with ways to act in which our forebears could not. Firstly we must understand what aspect of government or neocorporatist behavior we wish to change or remove. Secondly we must develop a way of thinking about this behavior that is strong enough carry us through the mire of politically distorted language, and into a position of clarity. Finally must use these insights to inspire within us and others a course of ennobling, and effective action.”

Julian Assange, “State and Terrorist Conspiracies”

Other than the “enocorporatist” nonsense, couldn’t that have been written by a Tea Party activist?

My son’s position is that shining light on the activities of our government is never a bad thing. Look at the accusation that our Sec. of State, Hillary Clinton ordered spying on diplomats in the UN., which might be violation of international law. Shouldn’t this be more of a story than Assange’s arrest record?

Reading through the analysis at the link, it seems to me that Assange sees that by exposing what governments wish to remain secret, we can keep ourselves from believing propaganda that might otherwise be proven to be untrue.

We all know that our government is involved in secretive dirty work. No one is surprised by this. So the author at the link suggests that it isn’t to embarass the governments that Assange does this. No one is surprised by what we have discovered in the cables. What Assange is trying to do is make it clear that these things can no longer be kept secret. With this, we can make our government more accountable and more open by destroying the way they have been able to be secretive.

The author points to a quote Theodore Roosevelt that Assange uses:

“Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people.”

So, isn’t Assange exposing the “invisible government?”

I think we can take comfort in the fact that whatever secrets our government is involved in, it in no way compares to the corrupt nature of so many other countries in the world. Is it bragging to say we are the least corrupt?

Nonetheless, my son makes a valid point. It comes from the perspective of the young, who believe that if the internet can be used as a tool to expose what the governments shouldn’t be doing anyway, how can that really be a bad thing?

I’m not defending Assange and Wikileaks personally. I’m just asking the questions that my son asked.

Tell me what you think about that argument.

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