Killing any captive is to send a message, and a pretty blunt one at that, to others. It is to say, in this case, that if you transgress the Pax Americana, if you dare to expose America’s war crimes, this is what you and your family can expect.
As such songs go, this song by SCF columnist Finan Cunningham is fine. It summarizes the plight of Julian Assange, political prisoner #A9379AY, HM Prison Belmarsh, Western Way, London SE28OEB and asks listeners to take a stand for this apostle of freedom, who is caged in Britain’s most notorious Category A prison.
As such movies go, this film about the suffering Julian Assange’s family endures is fine. And, though the Guardian undoubtedly feels they should be applauded for giving it this tiny review, if Assange is guilty of helping to expose war crimes and deserves to be extradited to be broken in America’s penal system as a consequence, well so should they, as everything Assange did he did in conjunction with them.
But the Guardian and all others who have signed up to NATO’s endless wars care nothing about that. To them Assange is an irritant, a scapegoat who must be sacrificed to keep others in line. Kill the chicken and scare the monkeys, as the Chinese say.
But Assange is more a coal miner’s canary than a Chinese chicken, a weathervane on what passes for our ever so polite society. Although Cunningham’s song and Ithaka have their place and decent human beings like Pamela Anderson, Roger Waters and Jeremy Corbyn, who have been steadfast in defense of Belmarsh’s Bird Man, deserve all the garlands we can muster, there is something very amiss in our collective souls when Britannia’s screws have carte blanche to crush such butterflies of freedom on our prison yard’s wheel.
Perhaps it was always so. Though the Catholic Church was built on the blood of martyrs, those venerables who were torn asunder by lions for the amusement of Rome’ finest, those martyrs were few and far between. Most were like St Peter, who let the cock crow until it was hoarse. No defiance of tyranny there.
Or here. Julian Assange is caught in no man’s land, impaled on the barbed wire that divides tactics from strategy. Because those at the heart of the campaign to end his torture must appeal to whatever good graces the British and their American overlords might still retain, they are stymied in what they can do and in whom they can approach, lest Assange be labeled along with Masha and Mishka and the Alley of Angels as another Putin puppet.
Though I have no idea whether Assange will regain the freedom he has more than earned a thousand time over or whether Ithaka and Finian’s song will help him in that regard, I do know this. His torture and incarceration is not only another monumental miscarriage of what passes for Anglo American justice but it is a grave threat to all of us who aspire to be something more than a cut price Professor Moriarty, that amoral scoundrel who was the bane of Sherlock Holmes and who so many of Assange’s tormentors model their own amorality on.
Though killing Assange the way they are doing so may not be quite like killing Bambi, it is not that far off. Killing any captive is to send a message, and a pretty blunt one at that, to others. It is to say, in this case, that if you transgress the Pax Americana, if you dare to expose America’s war crimes, this is what you and your family can expect.
It is not a new message. It has always been there, though not in tongues as blunt as this, which says in the simplest words to us that this is what they do to our prophets of peace, who expose their crimes.
Julian Assange is not NATO’s only victim in this regard. Not only are Julian’s family on their own Golgotha but all of us who want to look our own consciences squarely in the eye are also chained down by our moral cowardice, by our own lethargy and by lack of appropriate conduits to action.
Moral Americans broadcast their campaign here, Ithaca has its call to action here and Finian’s song is here. Although a lot more could be done if our overlords willed it, these are three vehicles offering us the means to help redress this massive affront not only to Julian himself but to the pacem in terris Julian’s exposures promoted. Perhaps, at day’s end, Julian is doomed, doomed with the rest of us to watch Tony Blair gather his ghastly garlands where he may. Perhaps too, at day’s end, Julian is doomed never to live the life a father, husband and son should live. But, in his isolation, he has the consolation of knowing that he was right, that, like Martin Luther King Jnr and so many more, he too was not only on the side of the angels but he will, until day’s end, inspire countless more angels to do what angels do, to do the right thing, to bear witness to war’s innocent victims, to walk the straight and narrow road, to follow the laws of God and man, and to render unto Caesar the middle finger. May God bless him, his family and all who stand by them.