I don't like to post about anything to do with politics. Its a dirty, dirty business, and everyone has their opinion, each having some validity and each being arguable. That's part of the reason why I don't belong to any group, association or organisation (apart from making a monthly donation to Greenpeace - that street hawker in Hyde Park was very convincing!).
My American readers in particular will no doubt have their own sensitivities to what I am about to post. But here goes anyway.
I find the situation with Julian Assange to be a very, very upsetting reflection of the place that Western society finds itself in 2012. As regards the charges of misconduct in Sweden - is he guilty or not? I have no doubt that he was at the very least having some naughty-boy "fun" on that occasion, and as a result he has undoubtedly left himself open to accusation. As to whether there was indeed misconduct, I cannot claim to know. But what I do know, is that I have never seen so much concerted government, police and international effort to arrest a man wanted for similar charges.
I wonder - if Assange was not a self-declared whistle-blower, would the authorities be pursuing him with the same remorseless attitude? Somehow, I really don't think so.
Can I just say for the record that I do not regard the man with the hero-worship that some accord him. Because of his rather sad childhood, the man may indeed be prone to weaknesses of the flesh. I am not pronouncing judgement on him one way or the other. In fact for me, the question of his guilt or innocence has now paled into insignificance. The far more pressing issue is that the world I once cherished as a place of freedom of expression seems dangerously close to becoming a police state.
We should all consider the current events as a warning. The actions of the UK authorities to me smacks of fear - fear of reprisal from the US. And if that's the case, since when has the relationship between the UK (and by extension the rest of the English speaking world) and the US become one of fear? Are we so afraid of America, have they really become the international bully-boy?
If that is the case then all people of right mind need to speak up NOW. In fact I am shocked that in the face of the TAA scandal, MORE Americans have not spoken up. A disturbing meek complacency seems to have crept over the American people. As Assange said in his address this weekend, that revolutionary spirit that sparked the birth of America seems to have faded to be replaced by rigid dogmatism and totalitarianism - the very things that the Founding Fathers wanted to avoid.
They say absolute power corrupts absolutely, so perhaps it was inevitable that this occur to what was the most powerful nation on Earth. Therefore it won't be long before another nation is handed that mantle. If the European and European-descended nations forsake their own founding values, then perhaps the rise of China will be complete. It's ironic really - at a time when China is opening up to the free market, with all the decadence and the benefits that come with it, we in the West seem to be going the opposite way. (I wonder what those American-as-apple-pie Republicans make of this?)
What I'm trying to say is that I feel disgusted and ashamed of my own culture. It only takes a quick skim of the kind of material that Wikileaks was leaking to see how corrupt the American armed forces have become. The 2007 air attacks on Baghdad make it clear that for many in the armed forces, fighting a war has lost all honour and has become little more than a glorified computer game - with human beings (aggressors and civilians alike) little more than icons on a screen to be gunned down without remorse or discrimination. Its so very sad - 70 years ago Americans fought with honour and with pride to free the world of tyranny. Now it seems, America is on the verge of becoming that tyranny.
And my own government is little better. I have never felt the need to disown my own government - now however, I do. I am so ashamed of what we are becoming, and it now falls to the people - everyone, you and me - to start demanding better. We must start with ourselves, and work our way out to the world.