Julian, Harry, Meghan, et al.

Photograph Source: Last Night of Freedom – CC BY 2.0

The Netflix series “Harry and Meghan” is as engaging as a well done movie, although it is a documentary. Two intelligent people battling the monarchy in Great Britain (United Kingdom) as their autonomy and Meghan’s (Duchess of Sussex) heritage are blasted all over the British tabloid press. Internet trolls raised the attacks against Meghan to such a level that in episode 5 of the series she is brought to tears by attacks against both herself and Harry and their child, Archie. Just before Meghan Markle married Prince Harry, even Meghan’s father enters the scene with interviews that purportedly disturb the royal family’s rule of not creating any controversy, thus possibly changing the way the monarchy is viewed by the British public and potentially threatening their support and funding.

Although mass media has a kind of tabloid presence in the US, the extremes in attack dog tactics in print mostly involve an online presence on the Internet here. Readers can recall the daily assaults on both the truth and civility during the Trump administration when every day brought some fresh horror or violation of common decency to light. Trump’s Orwellian slavish role in creating the aura of “fake news” alone could fill an entire library. His hate toward immigrants was monumental in a nation of immigrants. So, it is a kind of online tabloid press here.

As a kid working in my family’s breakfast and lunch shop, I loved the breaks in counter work to peruse the latest headlines in the National Enquirer. By early adolescence, I knew there was no “talking dog” in a nearby community as the Enquirer reported, and read more serious content, but I admit this nonsense was fun to read as a child.

When Harry and Meghan sought refuge from the ugliness of their battle with power and the British tabloids, I thought about the battle Julian Assange fights and has fought in bringing the sins of empire to light through his publication of very real news and particularly news about US wars and the machinations of the Democratic Party, as that political party sought to push Bernie Sanders out of the race for the Democratic nomination for president in 2016 against his opponent, the neoliberal Hillary Clinton. The US does not have a monarchy, but it certainly has centers of power in its political and economic systems and Hillary Clinton is one example of that power. Julian Assange had his freedom ended when he entered the Ecuadorian embassy to seek refuge in June 2012. If Chelsea Manning’s case of providing information about US wars and her imprisonment are any indication of what treatment Julian Assange could expect, then the conditions Manning experienced prior to 2013, and between 2013-2017, are telling.

To understand the monarchy in Great Britain and its refusal to come to the aid and prevent the continued imprisonment and torture of journalist Julian Assange, the subsidiary role of Great Britain to the US must be considered. Following World War II and its heroic stand against fascism, Great Britain shed its colonies, but not economic interests in them, and ceded its role as a global superpower to the US. That was not entirely a bad idea since the US could now become the global purveyor of military and economic might and Great Britain could take a backseat and still benefit from its global role. The so-called Labour Party could produce poodles like former Prime Minister Tony Blair, and the laughable mirror image of Trump in Boris Johnson, and still take part in preemptive wars such as in Iraq in 2003. Great Britain already had seen the far right Margaret Thatcher of the Tories do a metaphorical dance with her equivalent in the US, Ronald Reagan, as both societies sought to strip away the well-being of ordinary citizens. There was nothing quite like their transatlantic austerity and screwing the average Jane and Joe! The working class took it on the chin in both countries.

Then Julian Assange entered in the history of both nations decades later unmasking the endless wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and publishing the video of the 2007 Iraq helicopter attack called Collateral Murder. Recall that Prince Harry was a helicopter pilot in Afghanistan, as this was expected of royalty. The latter is not an assessment of Prince Harry’s time spent fighting in Afghanistan, but a way in which these seemingly disparate worlds collide with one another and how their political, economic, and social interests complement one another.

The price for the Netflix series “Harry and Meghan” is, in part, the $100 million that went to the couple. It may be difficult for readers to wrap their heads around a figure like that, but it certainly puts both Harry and Meghan in a class by themselves, but still does not justify in any way the hate leveled against them or the threats made. Racism is so prolific in both the US, Great Britain, and elsewhere that there is absolutely no way hate can be minimized or rationalized. It, hate, has taken on an international life not so different from the 1930s.

Here is what the late queen, Elizabeth II, had to say about Julian Assange, as reported in the Express (“Royal shock: Queen finally responds to demand to help Julian Assange in prosecution row,” February 18, 2020):

‘I must tell you, however, that as a constitutional Sovereign, Her Majesty [sic] action [sic] the advice of her Ministers and remains strictly non-political at all times.’

‘This is, therefore, not a matter in which The Queen would intervene.’

The WikiLeaks founder has been in HMP Belmarsh [prison] since April 2019, following his removal from the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

Torture and imprisonment of a journalist is referred to as a “row” in the British press. This from a nation where the Magna Carta granted rights to its people and who fought heroically against the forces of fascism during World War II. What’s needed here is a statement of support from Harry and Meghan and a demand for Assange’s immediate freedom. Those who have suffered serious adversity and hate are able to see it elsewhere. Julian Assange was performing the work of a journalist when Britain and Ecuador cast him off. Joe Biden needs to end this insanity. King Charles III needs to be heard on this issue, as does Prince William. Assange did not commit espionage; he worked as a journalist.

Howard Lisnoff is a freelance writer. He is the author of Against the Wall: Memoir of a Vietnam-Era War Resister (2017).