Sep 182020
 

In country after country, critical press coverage is becoming risky. Very risky. It has always been risky in countries such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iran, China… If Julian Assange, an Australian national living in Europe, is extradited to the US, freedom of the press will have become a figment of the imagination also in Western Europe and the USA. I use the cliché to indicate that many of us will not even know that we no longer enjoy freedom of the press, if indeed we ever really did.

In my country, the national broadcasting company now basically tells us what our government wants it to, which is mostly just to observe social distancing, to distrust the Russians and hate the Chinese, and to have fun.

Still, as far as I know, progressive or environmentalist media outlets are not being hobbled here. Not yet. But they don’t have the economic clout to send reporters all over the world to pick up and analyse news outside our borders, to challenge mainstream press and to expose financial and political overlords.

There is one news outlet that has the necessary clout and dedication to do just that: Al Jazeera. Al Jazeera is no more progressive or environmentalist than your Aunt Julia, but it has a freer rein than most other news outlets and its reporters are extremely competent.

Obviously, a much respected and fearless outlet will have many enemies. I would like to direct your attention to a post on this site written back in June 2017: The Rat is out of the Hole. (A related post, also written in June 2017, discusses the disconcerting relationship between the Trump administration and the Arabian peninsula. ) You will particularly notice the UAE statement (as quoted by the Guardian):

We do not claim to have press freedom. We do not promote the idea of press freedom. What we talk about is responsibility in speech.

Beautiful, that, no? If all autocrats could be as frank, we’d be spared a lot of claptrap.

Now the UAE has finally succeeded in partially hobbling Al Jazeera. From CNN’s rendition of the matter, you will see that US authorities are not very fond of Al Jazeera, which according to a letter from the Justice Department obtained by CNN aims “to influence audience attitudes with its reporting” with, CNN adds, “policies such as calling the Israeli Defense Forces the Israeli army instead of the IDF and not using the words terrorist or terrorism.”)

Meanwhile my own country’s national broadcasting company has not yet mentioned the bridle put on Al Jazeera. Nor does it appear to care much about the outcome of Julian Assange’s extradition hearing in London.

However, I find in El Pais a letter to that paper’s readers dated 3 March 2020 from no lesser a personage than the famous judge Baltasar Garzón, who humbled Dictator Pinochet and who directed the world’s attention to the shameful post-dictatorial silence (about mass graves, stolen babies etc.) in Spain. The title of the letter: Assange, la prensa en peligro. If you understand Spanish, read it! If you don’t understand Spanish, learn the language.

Apr 152019
 

Have you read “Bleak House”?

To my mind this was Charles Dickens’ very best novel. In fact, to my mind, this is one of the very best works of fiction ever written and possibly the best I have ever read.

Nevertheless, it is far from perfect. Dickens is reported to have treated his wife appallingly, yet his female protagonists are literally better than life. They are so good that they are downright daft, moreover totally implausible. More often than not, they are golden-haired, blue-eyed and have no will of their own. There are several “good” females, all equally unbelievable. True enough, there are also some “good” men, more flawed than their female counterparts, hence slightly more believable.

Bleak House is remarkable not for its portrayal of Good but for its portrayal of Evil, which has not changed much since the late nineteenth century, I see.

The concepts “Good and Evil” are not unique to Christianity, far from it. Even ancient Norse beliefs toyed with them. So did the Nazis. The Islamic religion is devoted to the pursuit of Good as are innumerable NGOs.

But just exactly what are Good and Evil? Well, I guess we all have a pretty fair idea of what is Evil: Greed, lust for power and vanity are the most common traits found in the people we generally consider bad – including many presidents, kings and prime ministers, the ones that enrich themselves – and their friends and families – and impoverish their constituents. In their wake: desolation, droughts, hurricanes and floods. Ahead of them even the flowers wilt, and stars vanish from the sky.

Worse, though, is the fact that such traits are ubiquitous. In many Scandinavian folk tales, if you chop off one of the troll’s heads, he’ll grow two new ones. There will always be somebody to replace the Ns – oops, no names! – of the world.

So what is Good? Why, now that I think of it, I have really no idea. Giving alms to the poor is generally regarded “good”, as is tending the sick (i.e. giving them water to drink, and soothing feverish foreheads). Telling the truth is generally considered a good thing, but not always. Not if you expose the “best country in the world” committing crimes against humanity. Obviously, “the best country in the world” is incapable of committing crimes against humanity since everything it does must necessarily be democratic and just and good. Telling the truth about the “best country in the world” and its equally democratic and just and good best mates in the Middle East may in fact be a very serious criminal offence subject to capital punishment.

Hounding people out of their homes and locking them up on a piece of land generally referred to as the world’s largest prison is considered good by some as it will hasten the return of the Messiah. To put it very plainly, Good is a very bewildering business. Maybe if the Messiah did return, some good would come of it, but I very much doubt it. In fact, he would probably be so disheartened and shocked, he would just sit down and weep,

Can Good only be defined as absence of Evil – absence of greed, vanity and lust for power? That would be a terribly disheartening sort of definition. For one thing: would Good, defined like that, dissipate smog and bring back the stars? Would it stave off floods and droughts and hurricanes? Would it bring back the butterflies? Would it light up the faces of the little children on the Gaza strip? Would it bring the murdered Hondurans, Guatemalans and Mexicans back to life?

Would it even prevent future murdering and future crimes against humanity? It certainly would do nothing of the kind unless the truth about such matters were told! And if the truth is not volunteered – and I ask you, how many callous villains admit having committed their crimes unless they are forced to? – it must be sought, wherever it can be found, and taken. The truth about crimes against humanity must be told!

Let us be very grateful that there are still a few souls who dare reveal the truth, even if they are made to pay a horrible and injust price for doing so.

We allow people from the past to speak the truth – after all, the currrent powers that be were not around then, and everything is different now. Dickens spoke the truth about greed, vanity and lust for powers. See if you don’t recognise a thing or two. The following is a quote from Bleak House about the slum the author calls Tom-All-Alone’s.

Darkness rests upon Tom-All-Alone’s…., and Tom is fast asleep.

Much mighty speech-making there has been, both in and out of Parliament, concerning Tom, and much wrathful disputation how Tom shall be got right. Whether he shall be put into the main road by constables, or by beadles, or by bell-ringing, or by force of figures, or by correct principles of taste, or by high church, or by low church, or by no church; whether he shall be set to splitting trusses of polemical straws with the crooked knife of his mind or whether he shall be put to stone-breaking instead. In the midst of which dust and noise there is but one thing perfectly clear, to wit, that Tom only may and can, or shall and will, be reclaimed according to somebody’s theory but nobody’s practice. And in the hopeful meantime, Tom goes to perdition head foremost in his old determined spirit.

But he has his revenge. Even the winds are his messengers, and they serve him in these hours of darkness. There is not a drop of Tom’s corrupted blood but propagates infection and contagion somewhere. It shall pollute, this very night…. There is not an atom of Tom’s slime, not a cubic inch of any pestilential gas in which he lives, not one obscenity or degradation about him, not an ignorance, not a wickedness, not a brutality of his committing, but shall work its retribution through every order of society up to the proudest of the proud and to the highest of the high. Verily, what with tainting, plundering, and spoiling, Tom has his revenge.

Sep 052011
 

Han er blond. Han setter seg ut over reglene. Han har i en periode tiltrukket seg massiv media- oppmerksomhet fra hele verden. Han fremstiller seg som en selvoppofrende idealist.

Nei, ikke han du tenker på, men Julian Assange.

Interessant, ikke sant, hvor smal den stien er som helter går på. Tråkker helten feil, er han/hun ikke lenger en helt, men for psykopat å regne.

Julian Assange, den mannen jeg heiet på for noen måneder siden, er formodentlig hverken mer eller mindre psykopatisk nå enn han var da. Det som har endret seg siden den gang er min og andres vurdering av hans bidrag til menneskeheten.

Julian Assange og Wikileaks har pisset i egen brønn og har gjort en fundamental og utilgivelig bommert: de har sluppet ut resten av materialet de sitter på. Uredigert. Det betyr at kildene deres, som før var anonymiserte, ikke lenger er det. Dette utspillet er blitt fordømt av samtlige fem av Wikileaks tidligere samarbeidspartnere, El Pais, NY Times, Der Spiegel, Guardian og le Monde.

Jeg har dog funnet et seriøst tidsskrift, the Independent, som enda forsvarer og har håp for Wikileaks: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/features/what-has-happened-to-wikileaks-2347830.html

The Independent hevder at Wikileaks har vært presset mot veggen og har frigjort restmaterialet i desperasjon.

Jeg er avhengig av avisene jeg leser. Hvis de juger for meg blir jeg feilinformert. Alle aviser juger jevnlig, under press, ulike typer press. Behovet for å tjene penger for å tilfredsstille aksjonærene er en type press. På samme måte som media, er politikere og byråkrater og de som jobber for politikere og byråkrater, hver eneste én ned til den unnseligste bebrillede sekretæren, av og til nødt til å juge under press. Ulike typer press.

Men å avsløre kilder…? Det var nettopp fordi han ikke ville avsløre kilden til Collateral Murder at han først fikk så mye positiv oppmerksomhet og støtte. Hvis ikke kildene kan stole på sin anonymitet, vil vi ikke få innsyn i skittent spill.

Historien vil dømme i denne saken. Personlig tror jeg nok at forholdet mellom Europa og USA aldri igjen blir som før Wikileaks-avsløringene, og godt er det! På den annen side vil det heretter kanskje bli enda tynnere i rekkene av dem som vil og kan avsløre menneskerettighetsbrudd.

Skulle den godeste Julian Assange dukke opp på min terskel, så ville han nå få en kjølig mottakelse.