Sunday, December 12, 2010

Killing the Messenger

Assange: Who does this man terrify?

In primitive societies, when a messenger brought bad news, the king hearing the news would often respond by killing the messenger. That’s where the phrase “kill the messenger” comes from. It’s an immature practice. Killing the messenger does nothing to change the truth of the message. It solves no underlying problems. All it does is keep the negative information from getting out for a little bit longer.

Our modern leaders would never do anything so primitive as killing the messenger, would they? Consider the case of Wikkileaks founder Julian Assange. He published secrets given to him by a homosexual member of the armed forces who stole them off a hard drive. The soldier, Brad Manning, is in custody and awaiting trial for stealing the data. That’s fair. Manning betrayed his uniform, but what about Assange?

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has called Assange a “High Tech Terrorist.” Ex-Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee has called for his assassination. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says he should be treated like “an enemy combatant.” Others slightly calmer voices have suggested that he be charged with espionage.

We should be concerned when these members of our ruling class attempt to incite a spree of messenger-killing against journalists who release information embarrassing to the United States government. The government is not the country- the people are the country, we just have a government. And it appears that government has been lying to us, has been caught lying, and now wants to correct that problem not by ending the lying but rather assassinating or criminalizing those who inform us of those lies.

Among the revelations, the U.S. is sending ground troops into Pakistan to hunt militants. Sending armed forces into another country is an act of war- I take offense to it when I hear reports of Mexican soldiers coming on our side of the border and shooting. Yet here we are, secretly doing the same thing in Pakistan. Did Congress declare war on Pakistan? Did we even have that debate? What happens when the Paks start shooting back? Are we about to be dragged into another war- this time with a nuclear-armed nation that has a population of well over one hundred million persons?

It’s Julian Assange who is telling us the truth about what our government is doing, in their own secret words, and our government that is lying to us. Why in the world would we join in on the messenger-killing? We need to know the truth in order to make good decisions and vote for the right people. If punishment is to be meted out, let it be toward government officials who haven’t told us the truth.

Really there is no difference between what Assange is doing and what the New York Times does when it leaks secret information in its stories. If the ruling class gets away with killing this messenger, which one is next? Actually, I don’t think they are worried too much about the New York Times anymore. The big media is no longer serving the role of government watch-dog. They now have a cozy relationship with the ruling class. That’s why none of them broke these stories. They had to be broken by a free-lancer like Assange. And that’s why many of them are attacking him instead of defending him.

It has been said that in an empire of lies, telling the truth is a revolutionary act. I’m not willing to trade knowing the truth about what my government is doing for a false promise of security from that government if only we let them eliminate certain messengers.


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