Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Julian Assange -- the most important journalist of the 21st century

Journalism means publishing what someone does not want to be known; everything else is advertising. Its function is to bring to light what has been hidden, to offer testimony, to offend.

Those words from Argentine journalist Horacio Verbitsky reminds us that very little journalism is being done in the world today and especially in the United States. 
That is why the launch of
Vault 7, a massive trove of documents about the countless hacks the CIA has come up with to hijack our computers, phones and even TVs  is so important. 

That our own government treats us all as terror suspects reminds us of a truth that once was spoken, but is little heard today: the enemy, the real enemy of our rights and freedom, is at home. Not in Cuba and Vietnam, as I was told so many decades ago, nor in Iraq, Syria or Afghanistan, as we are told today, nor in the Ecuadorean embassy in London.

But fighting the beastly follies of our rulers is not Julian Assange's job.

As a journalist, his devotion is to the truth, especially the hidden truth, what someone doesn't want to be known. And he has been true to revealing the truth, from the Collateral Murder video that showed how routinely American helicopter crews massacred civilians in Baghdad to today's unmasking of the CIA's hacking of, well, everything.

Are there people who would do us harm just because we are from the United States? Of course. It took the poet W.H. Auden only four lines to explain it in "September 1, 1939," the poem he wrote when World War II broke out.
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.
A lot of evil has been done. And a lot of evil is still being done. That most of all is what puts our lives in danger, but that is the least of it. Some day we will have to answer for what we allowed to be done in our name.

Somewhere tonight one or more brave heroes might have a fitful sleep now that the government knows what they have given to Wikileaks. And so will we, knowing every last shred of our privacy has been ripped from us by the all-seeing Eye of Sauron in Langley.

"Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free," says the Bible. But to make it so, we will have to fight for it.

1 comment:

  1. Though George Orwell's dystopian novel 1984 was taught to most of us during the Cold War as an anti-Communist tract, that doesn't seem to have been the author's actual intention, as this review of the movie version in Cuba's Granma newspaper suggests.

    Big Brother Is Watching You
    The Predictions of Orwell
    A CubaNews translation by Robert Sandels.