Jennifer Van Bergen: Why Julian Assange is My Hero

At RedRoom, author Jennifer Van Bergen offers a powerful defense of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange as a hero and global speaker of truth to power:

But what Assange has done is not to blow the whistle on wrong-doing. He isn’t a vulnerable insider speaking out on the wrongs of his masters (like Bradley Manning, the man who is accused of leaking tens of thousands of pages of classified material to Wikileaks). What Assange has done — is doing — is to act as a witness, to be the seeing eyes from a safe distance. Assange understands the need to protect his independence from both the sources who supply material to Wikileaks and from the power abusers whose abuses the material reveals. He is the one whose eyes form a barrier between the abuser and his victim and consequently break the abuser’s hold and undo his power.

Assange’s critics fail to understand what Assange is doing. They mistakenly believe Assange is “just” an anarchist who wants to undermine and topple governments. That is incorrect; Assange wants to throw light on things that lurk in the shadows, so that democratic participation is actually possible. He is deeply pro-democratic.

What do our readers think? Hero? Martyr? Manipulator? Something in between or something else entirely?

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  • http://socialmemorycomplex.net Jeremy Weiland

    Hero.

  • http://socialmemorycomplex.net Jeremy Weiland

    Hero.

  • http://twitter.com/TheTruthWatch Joe Friday
    • Calypso_1

      Your sources are all op eds from 1) An ex-peak oil writer who primarily contributes to a constantly alarmist, leftist anti-globalist/anti-Zionists rag. 2) A Military publication 3) An anti-Zionist/moon landing hoax blog.
       
      Did you feel that way after watching Assange interview Hassan Nasrallah?

    • Calypso_1

      Your sources are all op eds from 1) An ex-peak oil writer who primarily contributes to a constantly alarmist, leftist anti-globalist/anti-Zionists rag. 2) A Military publication 3) An anti-Zionist/moon landing hoax blog.
       
      Did you feel that way after watching Assange interview Hassan Nasrallah?

  • http://twitter.com/TheTruthWatch Joe Friday
  • Simiantongue

    Not saying that Assange IS a hero. But, it seems that people are looking for heroes. What does that say about the times? People look for heroes when times are bad, when they’re needed. So how dark are these days and where do people seek heroes? It seems they are looking to anti-establishment figures. Collective unconscious seems to be aware that these are dark times indeed and our leadership lurks therein. So heroes must be sought in places other than the corrupted authority. If you people read comics you’d know these things.

  • Simiantongue

    Not saying that Assange IS a hero. But, it seems that people are looking for heroes. What does that say about the times? People look for heroes when times are bad, when they’re needed. So how dark are these days and where do people seek heroes? It seems they are looking to anti-establishment figures. Collective unconscious seems to be aware that these are dark times indeed and our leadership lurks therein. So heroes must be sought in places other than the corrupted authority. If you people read comics you’d know these things.

  • emperorreagan

    I think Assange gets undue praise as both a villain and a hero.  

    The accounts I’ve read about him seem to paint a picture of a dude who has some narcissism issues and is difficult to work with.  Of course, one could same the same about Matt Lauer, so that alone doesn’t mean much.  Those are relatively common traits of the sort of person who seeks the spotlight, but make for a flawed individual. And if you’re taking on a position in opposition to the dominant power of the day, those flaws are much more serious. Matt Lauer only has to read GE’s press releases and smile, not challenge the dominant voices of the day and deal with the flak they’ll be firing his way.

    The mission of wikileaks, apart from Assange himself, is a valuable one.  In particular, trying to offer some degree of anonymity to protect whistleblowers from retribution is important.  Casting light on the secrets that states and corporations are attempting to keep while running roughshod over legal obligations is important.

    I think the move from a community based model to a centralized model with stricter editorial control was probably bad for the project.  I think the notion of a centralized model where someone is maintaining editorial control over which leaks are worth sharing, how they should be shared, and when they should be shared defeats the purpose.  Might you have to combat spam or retract bad information?  Sure.  But if you’re going to stand in opposition to state and corporate propaganda, I think the process of sharing the information needs to be wide open.

    So you’ve got a flawed individual who’s exerting top-down control and positioning himself as the face, spokesman, leader, financier, etc. of the whole project.  If everything had gone swimmingly, that would still be problematic to me.  I think his ego and inability to work well with others would’ve hampered the mission.  Exerting editorial control makes the motivations for what information is released questionable.  And of course the biggest issue – tying the project to one man makes it easier to discredit and dismiss the whole shebang.

    And that’s where Julian Assange’s flaws really have become the downfall of wikileaks, because things haven’t gone smoothly.  Was he a victim of a honeypot trap engineered by US Intelligence?  Perhaps.  Is he just an asshole who did something stupid and has the means to try to avoid the courts indefinitely?  Perhaps.  Is he an asshole who did something stupid and the powers that be seized on the opportunity? Perhaps. No matter how things made it to this point, the whole wikileaks project has seemingly become marginalized in favor of a story about him.

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    Heroes are rarely, if ever, what they are cracked up to be. Cast enough light onto the past and private life of any saint, any giant, any wit or rebel…and you get shadows. In the era of zero privacy and super speed communications…the process of finding out that someone whose actions seem admirable may turn out to have a dark side…as been exponentially sped up.

    But so what? Even if, in theory, Assange wasn’t the victim of a CIA asset who engineered a distraction from his damning leaks…and wasn’t the victim of Swedish law officials who bent or even snapped Sweden’s own laws to keep the case against him alive and kicking when it would have been tossed out and even if the Brits weren’t obliged to support the US in its quest to kill the interloper…and even if Assange wasn’t egotistical and ever so vaguely annoying…

    …he is a hero because he has arranged to make possible what others once only dreamed of in silence. The free flow of information makes accurate decision making possible. The whole bent of various states (read that as almost all of them) has been to control information in a way that best suits their interests. Assange and others are throwing a monkey wrench into that works…letting the veil slip, shining light were obfuscation and misdirection would otherwise be allowed to hold sway.

    Say what you will…but if one were poised to walk over a pit of acid, and the plank you were to walk along had a limited weight allowance…would you want an estimate based on the analysis by someone whose interests might be well served by your failure? Or would you prefer raw data that might be discomforting, but at least hadn’t been re-spun to suit someone else’s needs? The decisions we make day to day may not be quite so life and death each time…but striving for accuracy is to be commended…and that means cheering for anyone who challenges the folks muddying the waters for their own benefit.

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    Heroes are rarely, if ever, what they are cracked up to be. Cast enough light onto the past and private life of any saint, any giant, any wit or rebel…and you get shadows. In the era of zero privacy and super speed communications…the process of finding out that someone whose actions seem admirable may turn out to have a dark side…as been exponentially sped up.

    But so what? Even if, in theory, Assange wasn’t the victim of a CIA asset who engineered a distraction from his damning leaks…and wasn’t the victim of Swedish law officials who bent or even snapped Sweden’s own laws to keep the case against him alive and kicking when it would have been tossed out and even if the Brits weren’t obliged to support the US in its quest to kill the interloper…and even if Assange wasn’t egotistical and ever so vaguely annoying…

    …he is a hero because he has arranged to make possible what others once only dreamed of in silence. The free flow of information makes accurate decision making possible. The whole bent of various states (read that as almost all of them) has been to control information in a way that best suits their interests. Assange and others are throwing a monkey wrench into that works…letting the veil slip, shining light were obfuscation and misdirection would otherwise be allowed to hold sway.

    Say what you will…but if one were poised to walk over a pit of acid, and the plank you were to walk along had a limited weight allowance…would you want an estimate based on the analysis by someone whose interests might be well served by your failure? Or would you prefer raw data that might be discomforting, but at least hadn’t been re-spun to suit someone else’s needs? The decisions we make day to day may not be quite so life and death each time…but striving for accuracy is to be commended…and that means cheering for anyone who challenges the folks muddying the waters for their own benefit.

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    Heroes are rarely, if ever, what they are cracked up to be. Cast enough light onto the past and private life of any saint, any giant, any wit or rebel…and you get shadows. In the era of zero privacy and super speed communications…the process of finding out that someone whose actions seem admirable may turn out to have a dark side…as been exponentially sped up.

    But so what? Even if, in theory, Assange wasn’t the victim of a CIA asset who engineered a distraction from his damning leaks…and wasn’t the victim of Swedish law officials who bent or even snapped Sweden’s own laws to keep the case against him alive and kicking when it would have been tossed out and even if the Brits weren’t obliged to support the US in its quest to kill the interloper…and even if Assange wasn’t egotistical and ever so vaguely annoying…

    …he is a hero because he has arranged to make possible what others once only dreamed of in silence. The free flow of information makes accurate decision making possible. The whole bent of various states (read that as almost all of them) has been to control information in a way that best suits their interests. Assange and others are throwing a monkey wrench into that works…letting the veil slip, shining light were obfuscation and misdirection would otherwise be allowed to hold sway.

    Say what you will…but if one were poised to walk over a pit of acid, and the plank you were to walk along had a limited weight allowance…would you want an estimate based on the analysis by someone whose interests might be well served by your failure? Or would you prefer raw data that might be discomforting, but at least hadn’t been re-spun to suit someone else’s needs? The decisions we make day to day may not be quite so life and death each time…but striving for accuracy is to be commended…and that means cheering for anyone who challenges the folks muddying the waters for their own benefit.

    • Linus Van Pelt

      If we don’t appreciate the heroes we’re given, flawed though they may be, maybe we don’t deserve any heroes at all.

    • Linus Van Pelt

      If we don’t appreciate the heroes we’re given, flawed though they may be, maybe we don’t deserve any heroes at all.

  • http://twitter.com/jfqbsh Jason F Quackenbush

    Heh. Case rested.

  • http://twitter.com/jfqbsh Jason F Quackenbush

    Heh. Case rested.

  • Chelsea

    HERO

  • DetainMeYouFascists

     Well, he can’t be a martyr until they kill him. Which I’m close to certain they will. Now that he’s an enemy of the state, they can drone strike the embassy.

  • DetainMeYouFascists

     Well, he can’t be a martyr until they kill him. Which I’m close to certain they will. Now that he’s an enemy of the state, they can drone strike the embassy.

  • Chris

    Your hero is a rapist, traitorous, coward. Whatever man it’s your life, like what you want.

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