The Hero and the Media Whore

Thursday, 8th December 2011 at 16:00 UTC 1 comment

Its perhaps natural that the names “Bradley Manning” and “Julian Assange” are often written together on banners and in agit-prop. They are, after all, both names associated with Wikileaks, and are both wanted in America for punishment over the release of cables relating to America’s conduct of war. But that’s probably where the similarities stop.

Whilst it might be hard to separate the fates of the two individuals in the long term, as the American establishment seeks to stamp out truth-telling on its operations, the legal battles faced by both right now are pretty much polar opposites. And yet sadly its Bradley Manning, perhaps because of his incarceration, perhaps because of his lack of previous experience, who has been lost in the media clamour to cover Assange’ legal battles.

I have a terrible habit of comparing myself to other activists, and in reality, neither of these two people are activists in the classic sense. But I find it interesting how close these two are to polar opposites on my scale of people I want to be like. With Bradley Manning, I worry I could never have the strength of character to put my life in danger by outing truths I know might get me killed. With Assange, he is everything I fear I might become.

Bradley Manning languishes in one of the worst jails in America, essentially facing years of slow torture that could be switched to the death penalty if a court ever hears his case. Surely he knew this was likely to happen? What if I was in the same place? The internal struggle over something that could be so important, and yet is so likely to have devastating personal impacts, and indeed a huge impact on my family, makes me feel quite humble and not at all sure of my own moral backbone. The struggle for dignity through visibility of his case has been long, hard and shows no sign of ending.

Julian Assange, however, lives something of a jet-set lifestyle, or rather, he did until his movements were restricted by court orders. He may have started out with a vision for openness, but his means of obfuscating against his trial for alleged rape has always seemed at odds with his vision for everyone else.

His sense of self-importance and his protestations against Sweden’s justice system are pretty nauseating to most observers other than those who’s misogynistic worldview they fit well with – hardly those anyone should wish to impress. I realise all we see of Assange is given to us through the lens of the media, but the image I’ve consistently received has been one of a man obsessed with image and his status as top-dog in organisation.

Its been interesting seeing how some people have been drawn to Assange and others pushed away. I can’t help but notice that many of those who have been drawn to supporting him either have appalling views of women or lionise a very masculine form of leadership. Much as I like people to get involved in the movements I’m seen as having a leadership role within, I wouldn’t want people to join York Stop the Cuts because they see myself, or indeed any of those who provide leadership in the group, in anything like the same light.

I suppose its fair to say that I feel sorry for Bradley Manning, as well as inspired and humbled by his actions and convictions. He doesn’t deserve to be continually tied to such an egotist or misogynist. I hope I do a better job of reflecting his actions than Assange’s.

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Entry filed under: America, Culture, Military, Technology, Women.

Criticism and the Church Something in your eye, Mr Cameron?

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Helen  |  Thursday, 8th December 2011 at 18:19 UTC

    Thanks for this. Assange has had way more adulation than he deserves… Also, from testimony given by his own lawyer, am pretty convinced he’s a rapist. Do write more on Bradley Manning if you find time, he deserves more public attention.

    Reply

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