Now that I have become public enemy number one in some quarters for daring to question all those who are so intent on defending Julian Assange, I might as well go the whole hog, and risk even more criticisms and rebuke. Let me divide this into two parts, with the second half looking at biblical concerns (for Christians only).
Firstly, I continue to argue that this narcissistic egomaniac is causing far more damage than good. While every single lefty and America-hater seems to have gone wild with gushing praise for and defence of Assange, a few voices have dared to point out some obvious contrary truths. One of the most telling and incisive commentaries on all this is by Theodore Dalrymple.
His entire piece is well worth reading but let me offer some key parts of it to you: “WikiLeaks goes far beyond the need to expose wrongdoing, or supposed wrongdoing: it is unwittingly doing the work of totalitarianism.
“The idea behind WikiLeaks is that life should be an open book, that everything that is said and done should be immediately revealed to everybody, that there should be no secret agreements, deeds, or conversations. In the fanatically puritanical view of WikiLeaks, no one and no organization should have anything to hide. It is scarcely worth arguing against such a childish view of life.
“The actual effect of WikiLeaks is likely to be profound and precisely the opposite of what it supposedly sets out to achieve. Far from making for a more open world, it could make for a much more closed one. Secrecy, or rather the possibility of secrecy, is not the enemy but the precondition of frankness. WikiLeaks will sow distrust and fear, indeed paranoia; people will be increasingly unwilling to express themselves openly in case what they say is taken down by their interlocutor and used in evidence against them, not necessarily by the interlocutor himself. This could happen not in the official sphere alone, but also in the private sphere, which it works to destroy. An Iron Curtain could descend, not just on Eastern Europe, but over the whole world. A reign of assumed virtue would be imposed, in which people would say only what they do not think and think only what they do not say.
“The dissolution of the distinction between the private and public spheres was one of the great aims of totalitarianism. Opening and reading other people’s e-mails is not different in principle from opening and reading other people’s letters. In effect, WikiLeaks has assumed the role of censor to the world, a role that requires an astonishing moral grandiosity and arrogance to have assumed. Even if some evils are exposed by it, or some necessary truths aired, the end does not justify the means.”
Finally a bit of fresh air in a debate that is often characterised by obfuscation, muddled thinking, and cloudy moralism. Brent Bozell has also offered some rare clarity of thought on this whole episode. He too I quote in part:
“On Dec. 7, the notorious radical mastermind of WikiLeaks turned himself in on a sexual assault charge in London. But in the liberal media, the condemnations are few. There are no real enemies to the media elite’s left, especially if they can be (very loosely) identified with journalism. Julian Assange may be highly motivated to cripple American ‘imperialism,’ but his relentless efforts to disrupt American foreign policy is a good thing when the media are manipulating the government’s reaction by choosing which leaks they will publish and promote.
“Time magazine editor Richard Stengel, for example, told Charlie Rose on PBS that Assange is an ‘idealist’ that ‘sees the U.S. since 1945 as being a source of harm throughout the planet,’ but he’s not really opposed to him. He put Assange on the cover of Time with an American flag gagging his mouth and feigned a position of balance.
“In his ‘To Our Readers’ letter, Stengel conceded Assange is out to ‘harm American national security,’ but there is a public good unfolding, in that ‘the right of news organizations to publish those documents has historically been protected by the First Amendment’ … Americans the world over could die because of these intelligence betrayals. But hip, hip, hooray for the freedom of speech that got them killed?
He concludes, “In this good vs. evil narrative, the Pentagon is forever lying, and the idealistic liberals and leftists are forever exposing them with the ‘sensitive truths.’ It doesn’t even matter if the government is now operated with the ‘Audacity of Hope.’ If someone is being ‘gagged by the flag,’ as the Time cover of Julian Assange artistically implies, journalists can’t really be opposed to him.”
More can be said, but let me address my many Christian critics for the remainder of this piece.
To be honest, I have been somewhat dismayed at some of the reactions by believers to all this. I have noticed several unhealthy and unbiblical tendencies. One concerns a relatively poor understanding of the role and place of government. It seems some of these believers have bought into the line that government is always bad and always wrong, or have bought into the various grand conspiracy theories where everyone plus your dog is out to get you, or have imbibed in too many anarchistic values.
The truth is, it is God who has ordained government. Government is his idea, and it is given to us for our good in a fallen world. So too is authority. As always, biblical balance is needed here. Governments of course should be open, transparent, accountable, and responsive to its citizens. No one denies this. And of course there are many lousy, evil and tyrannical governments.
But of course there are limits to how open a government can be, and there is a legitimate place for keeping some information in house. There is not one family in the world that would want every single conversation, argument, or private internal matter splashed to the whole world.
There is a place for privacy, and a place for secrecy, both in homes and in governments. Getting the balance right here will always be tricky. Police states have no openness and no accountability structures. But the answer to that is not anarchy, or recklessly looting government information.
Another concern is what seems like almost a celebration of rebellion. Some seem to want to turn this guy into a hero, or martyr, or saint. Given how often and how strongly the Bible speaks against rebellion, I find all this a bit strange, and sad. The American radical Saul Alinsky dedicated his 1971 book, Rules for Radicals, to ‘the world’s first rebel, Satan’.
Rebellion is the very essence of sin, and we are clearly told that rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft. God nowhere gives a good word for rebellion. Yet so many people want to see Assange as another “hero”, a Ned Kelly. Perhaps Australians have always celebrated rebellion and resistance to authority, so maybe it is in their national blood.
Of course balance is again needed here. No one is saying there is no place to question things, to take a stand, to speak out, to rattle some cages when needed. But as I have said often now, I simply do not see Assange as some noble hero, doing the world so much good.
I see him as someone who thinks far too highly of himself, who has admitted to his hatred of America, and has made it clear that he wants to damage its interests. He is a radical and a rebel. I don’t see anything virtuous in that. In my books, he is on a par with someone like David Hicks.
But at the end of the day, this is just one man’s opinion. And I have only given it because a number of people asked me to share my thoughts on all this. So I have. But I will not go to the wall over it. This is an area where believers can agree to disagree.
I will go to the wall over the gospel of Jesus Christ. Some things are certainly worth living for and dying for. But this is just a political debate. It is an important political debate, and it raises many issues. And many biblical principles can be appealed to here.
But as I say, at the end of the day, this is just another contentious social issue. If you don’t like what I have to say, that is fine. Indeed, you don’t have to come to this site if it becomes upsetting to you. Indeed, you can start your own blog, and push your own opinions (and be prepared for all the grief and flack that will inevitably come your way!).
This site is just one person‘s attempt to try to think Christianly about some of the hot issues of the day. I will not always get it right. Perhaps I will be wrong more often than I am right. And we may just have to go our separate ways on some of these topics if that is the best course. But thanks for hearing me out.