The image of London police dragging Julian Assange from the Ecuadorian embassy was so disturbing and resonant on so many levels, one hardly knows where to begin. First, this person, this Moreno, has disgraced and degraded himself beyond historical repair. His name will be forever synonymous with betrayal of the most abject, vicious, and cowardly sort. Paul Craig Roberts has called him Judas, and the comparison is apt. Indeed, to see Assange carried out of the Ecuadorian embassy was to witness a contemporary crucifixion, complete with smirking Centurion and a smattering of curious, if not bloodthirsty, onlookers.
But another association comes to mind, and that is rape. As Harold Pinter famously noted in his acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize, which should be required reading in US high school civics’ classes—it certainly would be in mine, if I were still teaching—the US (used to) carry out its imperial depredations with a kind of wicked panache, disguising its true predatory intentions with clever language and even a certain wit. But no more. With a brief, somnolent interlude for the reign of the smiling assassin (who, above all, was skilled in the arts of public relations, an exemplar of the Pinter model), we have had, since the reign of Bush the Lesser, unapologetic, snarling, in-your-fucking-face, imperial barbarity. Now, with our very own fascistic goon, our Mussolini (another comparison, between Assange and Gramsci, is also apt), we are taking it to new depths, reveling in (trumpeting!) our lawlessness and undisguised brutality. It is the savage cry of the rapist, the brute, the one who knows only naked aggression and force. It is us.
The opening of the Ecuadorian embassy’s doors is a metaphor for the opening of something else, acquiescing to the entry of the great rapist of our time, the United States of America. Immediately after the violation, Assange unwillingly emerged, but he had been gestating for seven hellish years. His physical appearance betrayed it, he looked terrible, but he is alive, and he was carrying a book, a Rosetta Stone, of sorts. Late night comedians have been making fun of him and his appearance. They are beneath contempt. Only John Oliver, that I know of, has supported Assange. But I don’t follow these things very closely.
Poor Ecuador, sold down the river by the shockingly corrupt and craven Lenin Moreno in an act of Shakespearian villainy that will reverberate for decades, if not forever. The brutality and lawlessness of this is breathtaking. All are guilty, all will be punished.