For as long as Julian Assange has been in the Australian consciousness it has been clear to me he would end up as our Dreyfus if we were not careful. It was somehow thought this most revolutionary of bright and burning and egocentric intellects would passively accept his ludicrous fate, would be a pawn on the chessboard of nations and not a knight or a queen; a drama queen perhaps.
From Gillard’s first fool untruth, that what he had done was ‘illegal’, he has had the potential to blow up Australia’s politics. But no, it was imagined that though he was nearly Time’s Man of the Year and he was for a while as popular as Fred Hollows in Australia, and likely to be a Senator in any state he ran in, he was only a sideshow, and he would get five years in Sweden for ‘sex by surprise’ and be beaten to death in gaol when he was almost forgotten, and that would be that.
They did not reckon with the possibility that he had a mind of his own, or time to contemplate his imprisonment and waterboarding and secret Guantanamo trial and twenty years of appeals and execution by a far-distant American administration. Or his mistrust of all of us at home.
It would have been the work of a moment to extradite him here, to ‘answer certain questions’ about his possible treason and let him go, and, when Sweden wanted him, to ask Sweden to question him here.
It’s a process like racism, what’s happened. You believe a lesser human being will not jump off the roof and kill himself after years in Villawood, he will cop his infinite incarceration with oriental resignation, because that’s what they do, these lesser breeds, they obediently conform. And you believe a man of towering intellect who thinks himself the Einstein of current world politics, the Oppenheimer of this new information age, will cop like Oppenheimer his persecution and die meekly under torture if we ask him with British politeness to do so. That he will say ‘it’s a fair cop, guv’ and go quietly.
It is not so. He will fight for his life like any Primo Levi. And he will ‘overshadow’ in the headlines the rescue of Melinda Taylor, the Fairfax debacle, the success of the carbon tax, and all the goodwill the Government might have had.
And it’s a pity.
(The above piece was rejected by Unleashed on the grounds that it was ‘too brief’ and they had anyway another piece on Assange by a lawyer and it was, of course, impossible to print two pieces since it was of only passing interest and thank you.
I will think on these things.
Perhaps it might find paid publication in Ecuador)