by Rob Marchant
Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks currently claiming asylum in the Ecuadorean embassy, is only the last in the long line of distinguished anti-Western campaigners, so adored by the liberal left.
Assange may or may not be guilty of rape, and you may or may not agree with the motivation of Wikileaks as a liberating force for the masses. That said, we might start to smell a rat if we scratch the surface, to find that Wikileaks also includes the rather unpleasant Israel Shamir, whose overt racism and sexism, not to mention connections to the odious regime of Belarus, the great Bob from Brockley exposes here.
But, leaving that on one side, the case is very simple: Assange is on the run from prosecution for a serious alleged crime, in Sweden a country which is hardly well-known either for its unfair legal system, or for its propensity to do what the US tells it to (as one wag commented on Twitter, if it were any less minded to do American bidding, it’d be China).
Along the way he has jumped bail and, at the very least, let down his friends who put up the money in good faith. And, within the Stockholm Syndrome world of those who support Assange, there is a strong desire to misinform about the case (if you want to know the real facts, a good place to start is to follow the excellent legal blogger David Allen Green. It is also deliciously ironic that he has sought asylum at the embassy of Ecuador, a country recently criticised for human rights abuses, and which is fast going the same way of the demagogic Hugo Chávez’ Venezuela.
The pattern is familiar: the person starts off seeming like a freedom fighter, sticking it to the man; the man in question being the establishment, the government or simply the west.
A short time later, the same person, puffed up by their loyal supporters, feels that ordinary rules and laws do not apply to them: feeding off their own ego, they gradually say or do more and more unacceptable things, until finally, the liberal left reaches its tipping point and switches to criticism. Only in rare cases, however, are they entirely disowned, because people have already invested much emotional energy in them, and no-one likes to be wrong. Instead they are benignly classified as “part of the broad church of left-wing thought”.
But such people are not benign, and they are not really “left”, either. The psychological profile is often that of someone at once intelligent, manipulative and with a worrying lack of empathy for humanity.
And so it is with some irony we find our old friend, Respect MP George Galloway, taking up the cause of a man with which he shares a number of such traits. And in the most bizarre, and stomach-churning way: Galloway yesterday decided not only that Assange should not stand trial for rape, but that the reason for this is that sex with a sleeping woman does not require her consent.
To remove any doubt as to his views, he later tweeted:
“I think the whole thing is a setup. I don’t understand how so many of you can’t see that. If he did these things, he’s a rat. But the United States empire, the British empire, the imperial system that around the world is slaughtering human beings by the million, cutting their throats, starving them to death, leaving them to die of poverty and avoidable disease in their millions, is a much bigger rat, no…So why would you want Assange to be delivered to the United States and silenced for ever, unless you were on the side of empire.”
In other words, in a moral relativism which is base, even by Galloway’s rather low standards, it’s ok to rape someone, because the US does worse things. And, in this insane anything-goes-as-long-as-you-hate-the-West logic, you have the nub of what the two share: a sort of low-rent, amoral messiah complex.
It is no surprise to those of us who have followed the career of George Galloway that he thinks in this way, or that his extreme-left views rather resemble those of the extreme right; that he has scant respect for the rights of women or gays, because he defends people who openly advocate their maltreatment; that he has famously praised dictators such as Saddam Hussein and has been one of the last supporters of the genocidal Assad, even though he now lies about it; or that he regularly presents on PressTV, the mouthpiece of the odious Iranian regime, closed down in the UK by Ofcom. This is not hyperbole, but verifiable fact.
The only people who can like George Galloway are surely either those who do not know him very well or who choose not to (one of the popular ways of choosing not to, by the way, is to interpret any criticism as a conspiracy of the Western media against him).
What can we glean from this sorry tale? First, that Julian Assange is not a great liberator being oppressed by nefarious global powers, as some of the Occupy crowd still seem to think; but hopefully that, by now, is obvious.
Moreover, that Respect is not, as Left Futures, or Galloway’s Labour friend Jeremy Corbyn seem to think, an acceptable part of the broad church of the left; in fact, Galloway’s views on the Assange trial alone brand him a fairly unpleasant human being.
Respect is by no means the fluffy love-and-peace brigade that its activists would like to have us believe. The party contains people with extremely unpleasant views (if you disagree, try watching this video of their chair in Tower Hamlets), who both advocate and execute violent action. And in a party where Galloway is the leading figure, one might worry with good reason about their “respect” for women, gays or democracy.
One last, perhaps fanciful, thought: it is not too much of a stretch of the imagination to picture a future evening, where a relieved Assange, having escaped trial, might sit down for a celebratory dinner with his friends and supporters. Among them, perhaps, sit a smiling Galloway, and emissaries from those bastions of democracy and human rights, Ecuador, Russia, Syria, Iran and Venezuela, all eager to engage with these useful idiots.
The rulers of countries, which perhaps in their younger selves might have generated apprehension, now welcome them with open arms; and we are minded of the final lines from Orwell’s Animal Farm, where the pig revolutionaries have come full circle back to the dictatorship of man:
“No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”
Although there are differences between Assange and Galloway, their fundamental personalities are rather similar; and, most chillingly, both have become the friends of the despots and demagogues that their supporters might just once have railed against.
Rob Marchant is an activist and former Labour party manager who blogs at The Centre Left