The only thing worse than listening to Julian Assange in action these days—especially when, Evita-like, he exhorts the crowds from the balcony of a Latin American embassy—is listening to the so-called reasons why Sweden and the United States want Assange to face trial. For something-or-other.
The lyrics of Assange’s “Don’t Cry for Me” incantation are even worse than any penned by Andrew Lloyd Weber. Which is saying a lot: “Remind of your vigil in the dark before the Embassy of Ecuador. Remind them of how in the morning the sun came up…” etc., etc., etc.
There are any number of reasons why the US wants Assange muzzled for a long, long time, and none of it has to do with his limited oratory skills. To take just one example: When WikiLeaks, the tell-all website founded, stoked, and publicized by the Australian, released documents two years ago reporting that Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh promised US general David Petraeus that he, Saleh, would lie to his countrymen about who exactly was responsible for the drone strikes in the Yemeni countryside (“We’ll continue to say they’re ours not yours,” was the quoted remark), it is likely that a lot of Yemenis were appalled. Especially those relatives and friends of civilian, non-al-Qaeda Yemenis who were killed by the drone strikes.
And it is also likely that Saleh and Petraeus both were made unhappy by the revelation.
How unhappy was the US after this and many other embarrassments, courtesy of Assange? So unhappy that two years ago Eric Holder, the US attorney general, was considering resurrecting the Espionage Act, a World War I–era law, which states that unauthorized dissemination of secret national defense information can be a criminal offense involving plenty of jail time (up to 20 years) for the disseminator. Since the New York Times and the Guardian, among other media outlets, carried a fair portion of those 250,000 leaks, Holder had to rethink the US position regarding what constitutes a crime. Possibly, he figured, it wouldn’t do to for Arthur Sulzberger Jr. to share the same cell, as, say, the mole Aldrich Ames, an American who received $1.5 million for his efforts on behalf of the Soviet Union.
Very conveniently—perhaps too conveniently?—the next thing anyone knew, Sweden got into the act, also demanding Assange’s presence to answer charges. The issue this time: sexual … something-or-other.
I still can’t figure out what it was. All I know is Assange certainly got around in August 2010.
To refresh our collective memory, just in case your mind wasn’t trained on his sex life: That August, Assange slept with Woman A in Stockholm, and according to Woman A, first he pinned her body down, but then he didn’t. Also, when she insisted on his using a condom, he consented, but then the condom broke, and they continued to have sex anyway.
I’m still wondering what law in Sweden was broken by these acts. Or anywhere, except maybe the Vatican.
Four days later that same August, Assange slept with Woman B. And while she was asleep, she alleges, he had unprotected sex with her, which she too didn’t try to stop. In fact they parted on good terms the next morning. Only he never called her again, which he had promised to.
Let’s not jump to any conclusions here. Let’s assume that Assange and Woman B just fell asleep on her bed because he was tired from having unprotected sex with Woman A and Woman B was tired of hearing about it. And that they—Woman B and Assange—were just good buddies who liked to fall asleep on the same bed as a regular thing. But then, to the shock and dismay of Woman B, Assange had sex with her and she was upset, but not so upset she tried to put an end to it or that she didn’t want to see him again.
Assange is, to be sure, if we take these accounts at their face value, a jerk. The kind of person a woman would be unwise to invite into her bedroom. But I am weary of women who cry rape or sexual assault on those occasions when they invite jerks, condomless or otherwise, into their bedrooms. It diminishes the seriousness of the crime of rape, the true crime of a true rape—and frankly it diminishes women. There are times, in other words, when it is women themselves who have to be responsible for their own errors of judgment, and crying rape because a condom broke or Julian declined to call for a second date is pathetic.
Why Sweden would think either of these women’s accounts warrants Assange’s return to the country of his assignations is beyond me. Why, for that matter, would Swedes, female or male, ever want to see Assange again? Speaking for his client, Mark Stephens has consistently declared that the charges were politically motivated—i.e., spurred and abetted by the ire of the US, which wants Assange punished for anything at all. “The honeytrap has been sprung. Dark forces are at work,” the lawyer said. “This is part of a greater plan.”
And for once, I agree with Assange.
Photo Credit: Espen Moe