FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Why Julian Assange is My Hero

by JENNIFER VAN BERGEN

I have high standards, apparently, because I can’t recall the last time I felt anyone was a hero.

Julian Assange understands power relationships and he made a decision to delegitimize illegitimate power — or said another way, to disabuse abusive power — and to ensure that they (those in power) are held accountable, simply by pulling back the shroud of secrecy behind which they hide.

As with vampires, the very light of day is enough to shrivel up power abusers, or at the very least, to make them run for some dark, dank cave.

It’s an odd fact that power abusers can only abuse whatever power they hold as long as their actions are hidden in the shadows. I don’t know why exactly this is true, but it is. Child molesters can only molest children if responsible adults don’t know it’s happening. Serial killers can only continue to kill if all the witnesses are dead. Every criminal, every power abuser, knows this innately. And the weird thing is that many times there ARE people who know what is happening but silently collude in the coverup, but in the shadows always it remains.

The exception to this rule of shadows is when a power abuser commits his wrongs so brazenly and publicly that people are wowed or silenced. Of course, even in this circumstance, power abusers often kill off witnesses – those who really see and understand what they are doing, or those whom they feel might do so, for some historical or circumstantial reasons.

And of course, let’s not forget the power of projection: when we see in others what we reject in ourselves. So bullies pick on the weak because the bullies can’t stand their own weaknesses. (This is where it becomes both shadows and mirrors.)

Again, these wrongdoings tend to happen in the shadows, in secret, or if in the light of day, in a situation where no witnesses or remedies are available … or revealed as projections (the Evil Twin Other).

Accountability. Oversight. Witnessing. I’m not sure how to share my own encounters with these things, but I think they are instructive.

Many years ago, when I first moved into NYC, I got frequently harassed and stalked. I learned that looking these guys in the eyes (or even looking at them peripherally) just fed their disorder; they would come on even harder. I learned that avoiding looking at them, looking away, or walking away had the same effect.

However, I eventually discovered a specific method that worked. If I looked at their chest and down to their groin, without ever making eye contact, and then looked away indifferently, maintaining a gaze away from them but that keeping them in the periphery, it WORKED. They backed off and left me alone.

Later on, I practiced this when other women were being ogled or harassed. I would put myself physically in a line between the woman and the ogler and stare at that point between them. The ogler would invariably become more and more uncomfortable and eventually would break away. It was as if my visual line created a physical barrier, as if my eyes seeing his actions without comment — witnessing — undid his nerve and broke his power hold over the other.

If, on the other hand, I met the eyes of the wrongdoer and showed disgust or any kind of negative judgment, I made myself a target for attack.

This illustrates another rule of engagement with power abusers: if you catch them red-handed, doing their bad deeds, and if you have the intention to judge them for their wrongs, they will increase their wrong-doing and come after you, if they can.

This is probably the reason why abuse so often is allowed to continue. Even if people are aware it is happening, they don’t want to make themselves targets. I can’t tell you how many times I broke the hold of an ogler while dozens of others sat or stood in proximity pretending nothing was happening.

Some superstitiousness: see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. Like it will go away if we pretend it doesn’t exist! How childish and primitive a belief that is in our “modern civilized” world!

But what Assange has done is not to blow the whistle on wrong-doing. He isn’t a vulnerable insider speaking out on the wrongs of his masters (like Bradley Manning, the man who is accused of leaking tens of thousands of pages of classified material to Wikileaks). What Assange has done — is doing — is to act as a witness, to be the seeing eyes from a safe distance. Assange understands the need to protect his independence from both the sources who supply material to Wikileaks and from the power abusers whose abuses the material reveals. He is the one whose eyes form a barrier between the abuser and his victim and consequently break the abuser’s hold and undo his power.

Assange’s critics fail to understand what Assange is doing. They mistakenly believe Assange is “just” an anarchist who wants to undermine and topple governments. That is incorrect; Assange wants to throw light on things that lurk in the shadows, so that democratic participation is actually possible. He is deeply pro-democratic.

Assange makes me cry. All the articles I’ve written, all the peace and justice rallies and conferences and meetings and debates in which I’ve participated, all the travel, the speeches I’ve given — two years ago, I walked away from these things and turned my eyes to addressing what I felt and still feel underlies it all — which is what “working at the archetypal level” work is about, which was set forth in my “Archetypes for Writers” book and is slowly developing into the work of a new organization, the and 12th Generation Institute, built on the fundamentals of deep awareness, environmental sustainability, and doing no harm — fine, all this, fine, but as much as I know about the deep human causes and drives and consequences, Assange has found a way to simply break through all the BS, all the smoke and mirrors, and not just make it clear … but put us back o track, in one fell swoop.

Of COURSE, the United States government and its allies want to take him down! Of COURSE, THEY are the power abusers. Let us not get it wrong about Assange. He is working for us, the common people of the world, all of us. If we are afraid of that, it’s only because we are not used to having power over our lives.

JENNIFER VAN BERGEN, a journalist with a law degree, is the author of THE TWILIGHT OF DEMOCRACY: THE BUSH PLAN FOR AMERICA (Common Courage Press, 2004) and Archetypes for Writers: Using the Power of Your Subconscious (Michael Weise Productions, 2007). She can be reached at jennifer.vanbergen@gmail.com.

 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

June 28, 2017
Diana Johnstone
Macron’s Mission: Save the European Union From Itself
Jordon Kraemer
The Cultural Anxiety of the White Middle Class
Vijay Prashad
Modi and Trump: When the Titans of Hate Politics Meet
Jonathan Cook
Israel’s Efforts to Hide Palestinians From View No Longer Fools Young American Jews
Ron Jacobs
Gonna’ Have to Face It, You’re Addicted to War
Jim Lobe – Giulia McDonnell Nieto Del Rio
Is Trump Blundering Into the Next Middle East War?
Radical Washtenaw
David Ware, Killed By Police: a Vindication
John W. Whitehead
The Age of No Privacy: the Surveillance State Shifts into High Gear
Robert Mejia, Kay Beckermann and Curtis Sullivan
The Racial Politics of the Left’s Political Nostalgia
Tom H. Hastings
Courting Each Other
Winslow Myers
“A Decent Respect for the Opinions of Mankind”
Leonard Peltier
The Struggle is Never for Nothing
Jonathan Latham
Illegal GE Bacteria Detected in an Animal Feed Supplement
Deborah James
State of Play in the WTO: Toward the 11th Ministerial in Argentina
Andrew Stewart
Health Care for All: Why I Occupied Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse’s Office
Binoy Kampmark
The European Commission, Google and Anti-Competition
Jesse Jackson
A Savage Health Care Bill
Jimmy Centeno
Cats and Meows in L.A.
June 27, 2017
Jim Kavanagh
California Scheming: Democrats Betray Single-Payer Again
Jonathan Cook
Hersh’s New Syria Revelations Buried From View
Edward Hunt
Excessive and Avoidable Harm in Yemen
Howard Lisnoff
The Death of Democracy Both Here and Abroad and All Those Colorful Sneakers
Gary Leupp
Immanuel Kant on Electoral Interference
Kenneth Surin
Theresa May and the Tories are in Freefall
Slavoj Zizek
Get the Left
Robert Fisk
Saudi Arabia Wants to Reduce Qatar to a Vassal State
Ralph Nader
Driverless Cars: Hype, Hubris and Distractions
Rima Najjar
Palestinians Are Seeking Justice in Jerusalem – Not an Abusive Life-Long Mate
Norman Solomon
Is ‘Russiagate’ Collapsing as a Political Strategy?
Binoy Kampmark
In the Twitter Building: Tech Incubators and Altering Perceptions
Dean Baker
Uber’s Repudiation is the Moment for the U.S. to Finally Start Regulating the So-called Sharing Economy
Rob Seimetz
What I Saw From The Law
George Wuerthner
The Causes of Forest Fires: Climate vs. Logging
June 26, 2017
William Hawes – Jason Holland
Lies That Capitalists Tell Us
Chairman Brandon Sazue
Out of the Shadow of Custer: Zinke Proves He’s No “Champion” of Indian Country With his Grizzly Lies
Patrick Cockburn
Grenfell Tower: the Tragic Price of the Rolled-Back Stat
Joseph Mangano
Tritium: Toxic Tip of the Nuclear Iceberg
Ray McGovern
Hersh’s Big Scoop: Bad Intel Behind Trump’s Syria Attack
Roy Eidelson
Heart of Darkness: Observations on a Torture Notebook
Geoff Beckman
Why Democrats Lose: the Case of Jon Ossoff
Matthew Stevenson
Travels Around Trump’s America
David Macaray
Law Enforcement’s Dirty Little Secret
Colin Todhunter
Future Shock: Imagining India
Yoav Litvin
Animals at the Roger Waters Concert
Binoy Kampmark
Pride in San Francisco
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail