Why Australians Should Fight To Bring Assange Home

Authored by Caitlin Johnstone via Medium.com,

Prominent Australian/British WikiLeaks activist Somerset Bean has launched a GoFundMe with the simple goal of circulating 1,000 giant posters throughout Australian cities in the lead-up to our May 18th elections calling for Julian Assange to be brought home. The posters urge Australians to contact their representatives and put political pressure on them to stand up for one of our nation’s best and brightest stars.

Bean writes the following:

The goal is to print and paste up a thousand of these #BringAssangeHome giant (A0 size) posters in prominent locations in Australian cities during May 2019.
With every $500 raised, another 100 posters can go up. We need to get printing and distributing right away to capitalise on the pre-election weeks.
Saving Julian Assange should be an election issue. Politicians need a push to wake up on this issue and #BringAssangeHome. Can you help use this opportunity to highlight Julian’s plight? Please share the Gofundme page with your networks on social media and by email and donate what you can. Use the hashtag #BringAssangeHome. Thanks for your support and please get in touch if you can help in any other way.

The GoFundMe, which has been endorsed by the Defend Assange Campaign on Twitter, is as of this writing more than halfway towards its goal of $5,000. Printing and posting is already well underway.

Bringing Assange home would indeed be one of the best things that could possibly happen to Australia, because it would necessarily mean coming together in the name of national sovereignty and standing opposed to the US-centralised imperial blob that is constantly sucking us into stupid foreign wars and preventing us from functioning as a real nation. The path toward bringing Assange home also happens to be the path toward ceasing to have our fate as a nation defined by our existence as a giant US military/intelligence asset.

recent segment on 60 Minutes Australia interviewed attorney Greg Barns about his call for the Australian government to step in and stop Assange’s entirely illegitimate extradition to the United States.

“If he were for example detained in China for this period of time, and ill-treated, there would be a hue and cry, not only on the part of the government, but the Australian media,” Barnes told 60 Minutes. “Because it’s the United States, we seem to think there’s some form of exception.”

Assange’s father John Shipton gave a spirited defence of his son throughout the segment, accusing the Ecuadorian government of handing the WikiLeaks founder over to the clutches of the US empire in exchange for an IMF bank loan and rightly dismissing the absurd list of accusations leveled against him as “smears”. The segment concluded with a wish from Shipton for Assange to be able to live freely in his home country and spend time with his family.

“It would be really nice to sit there with the kids and the occasional person saying ‘Good on ya, mate’ or ‘Welcome home’. That would be tops,” Shipton said.

“Do you think it’s going to happen?” asked Tara Brown, who’d maintained an oppositional and antagonistic posture throughout the segment.

“I hope so, yes,” replied Shipton.

Despite loading the segment with obnoxious fact-free smears about feces on embassy walls and calling Assange a “self-proclaimed journalist”, as well as giving plenty of screen time to Australian war whore Senator Jim Molan to explain to the audience why Assange is a “villain”, a 60 Minutes AustraliaTwitter poll released after the segment aired maintained overwhelming support for bringing Assange home. A total of 11,539 votes responded 85 percent “Yes” and 15 percent “No” to the question “Julian Assange’s father is urging Australian authorities to step in and stop Assange’s extradition to the US, and ultimately, finally bring him home. But does he deserve our support?” These numbers remained consistent from the very beginning of the poll, with the same percentages revealed when I screenshotted it just two hours after it went up with only 616 votes.

World Socialist Web Site article titled “Growing popular support for Julian Assange in Australia” describes some more reasons to feel hopeful that Australians are beginning to wake up to the importance of protecting Assange from the talons of the US war machine. My own conversations with Australians indicate that despite the virulent, war propaganda-like smear campaign that has been waged against Assange’s reputation across the entire political spectrum throughout the western world, when they are asked to think about it it remains an obvious, commonsense perspective among most of my countrymen that he is one of our sons and ought to be protected from hostile outsiders who wish to punish him for publishing truth. This is good, because it means we’ve still got the kind of inner compass necessary for navigating ourselves out of our abusive relationship with empire and into a solid sense of who we are as a nation.

We Australians do not have a very clear sense of ourselves; if we did we would never have stood for Assange’s persecution in the first place. We tend to form our national identity in terms of negatives, by the fact that we are not British and are not American, without any clear image about what we are. A bunch of white prisoners got thrown onto a gigantic island rich with ancient indigenous culture, we killed most of the continent’s inhabitants and degraded and exploited the survivors, and now we’re just kind of standing around drinking tea as the dust settles saying, “Hmm… well, we’re not stuck-up like the Brits, and we’re not entitled like the Yanks.”

I went to a community theater with my family a while back to see Spring Awakening, an English-language musical set in Germany. For no apparent reason, the actors on the stage spoke in American accents. They were Australians playing Germans, not Americans; there was no reason whatsoever for that to happen. But that sort of thing is so commonplace here the only person who pointed it out was my American husband. It seemed perfectly normal to me.

But it isn’t normal. It isn’t normal for a nation of people to be so neurotic and ashamed of their own nationality that they put on a foreign accent rather than their own for no reason. It isn’t normal that we have such a head-down, subservient society that most of our homegrown talent leaves Australia forever because we’ve got a weird slave-culture habit of cutting down the “tall poppies” whenever anyone is perceived to have risen above their station. It isn’t normal that we feel so ashamed of standing tall and shining bright in the world.

Nowadays the closest non-Aboriginal thing you ever see to a display of Australian identity typically involves Southern Cross tattoos, thuggishness, Islamophobia, and a desire to continue the cruel warehousing of human beings on Manus Island. That is plainly gross, and the Aboriginal people now hold their culture secret and close to their chests for completely understandable reasons, so what else is there? What else could there be that could begin to unite us as a people so we can begin to develop a little collective pride and cease allowing ourselves to be used as a tool of sociopathic imperialists?

Well, there’s Julian Assange. He’s something positive that we can all fight for, a clear force of good in the world that we can unify around as we begin a slow, sloppy, completely necessary divorce from the cancer of empire.

Every country has its flavor. In my country, we grew up valuing innovation. Most Australians my age can reel off a list of Australian inventions, from the Hills Hoist to the postage stamp to the bionic ear to wifi. I didn’t even have to go and google that just now, that’s how much a part of our national conversation and our education is our pride in our use of insight for practical problem-solving.

There are some fundamental values that myself and others of Assange’s generation grew up with as seventies children in Australia. There was the value of “do the right thing,” the value of “giving everyone a fair go”, and the value of “keeping the bastards honest.” These were key and oft-repeated phrases in my childhood during the seventies and eighties. I was a baby when there was a CIA/MI6 coup in our country and my parents were implored by the ousted Prime Minister Gough Whitlam to “maintain the rage” at the unforgivable attack on our democratic sovereignty. That’s in my living memory. When Julian and I were small, anti-establishment sentiment was at its loudest in Australia.

We have an inbuilt distrust of authority and a deep hatred of empire which probably stems from our convict roots, and then from the ongoing waves of refugees who were running from famine, wars and despotism. Aside from the indigenous population, we are a country full of people who were forced by empire to come here in one way or another. So we don’t like authority much and we instinctively cut people down before they get too powerful. This is why the unions are still relatively strong and social programs are such a natural fit for us. We like things to be fair. We like everyone to have a say.

Julian Assange’s work is an embodiment of all those values. The initial innovative use of technology to create WikiLeaks, the belief in openness and transparency, the desire to democratise information for the good of the whole, and the joy in keeping the bastards honest — all of that is very Australian. Very me. Very us.

His work is extraordinary. Never has a single innovation shaken existing power structures in such a short amount of time. In an inverted totalitarian system where the ability to suck resources from the people is hidden under a veil of propaganda, the ability to rip through the veil of spin and government opacity is a powerful tool indeed. In just a little over a decade he managed to make himself the most wanted man alive by the most powerful people on earth. That’s how effective WikiLeaks has been in bringing truth to power.

Bringing Julian Assange home could be the first step to giving ourselves a bright, shining image of who we are and what we stand for. At the moment, Australia is a lifeless vassal state hooked up to the US power establishment with our every orifice and resource being used to feed the corporatist empire. Anesthetized to the eyeballs and in a state of total submission, the return of Julian might just be the little spark we need to get the old ticker pumping for itself again. Finally standing up for ourselves, for what’s right, and for the things that Julian stands for might just be the very thing we need as a nation to discover who we really are.

And of course it’s not a simple task. Of course it will require pushing back against deeply institutionalised capitulations at the core of Australian international relations. Of course it will ultimately require changing how we’ve been operating as a nation in the world. Nobody’s saying it’s a simple task. But it is what’s right, and it’s also the exact direction we need to move in order to begin a transformation into a healthy, sovereign nation.

Bring him home. It’s time.

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