Tuesday, December 7, 2010

What If Julian Assange Were An Arab Muslim . . . .

I have a simple question about Julian Assange, the praised and scorned leader of the WikiLeaks enterprise, which has released scores of confidential governmental materials to media. Today, in a matter unrelated to the release of any documents, Assange was arrested in London for alleged sexual assaults that police contend occurred in Sweden earlier this year.

Dissenting Justice has not analyzed the WikiLeaks situation. Admittedly, WikiLeaks presents important questions regarding the First Amendment and the control of sensitive governmental information. Nonetheless, as the country engages in a debate regarding the appropriateness of Assange's behavior, I wonder whether his defenders' position and the often tentative US government responses would look the same if Assange were an Arab Muslim.

I find it difficult to imagine the public rhetoric surrounding Assange remaining the same under those circumstances. I suspect that many true progressives would defend Assange regardless of his identity. Yet, I am equally certain that many people who are either on the fence or opposed to Assange would demand vigorous governmental action against him if he were an Arab Muslim -- or, possibly, if he simply were not white and male.

This post is not meant to condemn any particular group or person in the United States. Instead, it represents my thinking about the possible operation of gender, race and religion in this situation.


silsilajahilliya said...

Thank you for caring.

w.g.hanna said...

I think of it like this: the fact that Assange is white has made it possible for progressive to discuss open government and expression rights without having to counter the usual racist fear mongering the media and our political elites facilitate.

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