The stars are not wanted now; put out every one, Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun, Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood; For nothing now can ever come to any good. W H Auden
For the modern emperors of the USA, the pursuit of Julian Assange is a Game of Thrones where Julian is an early Christian martyr who must be fed to the lions because he can’t stomach the hypocrites in the Democratic Party. Muslims, too, know all about the hypocrites. We post Dan O’Neill’s recent speech on May 3, International Press Freedom Day, in Bunyapa Park, Meanjin, in defence of Assange and why he must be freed.
To use a recent modern phrase of ‘speaking truth to power’ to Julian’s experience … when I think about Julian, I think it’s hard to cope with the magnitude of what he represents …. the cause of the powers to whom he spoke, the truth.
And it wasn’t just a theoretical truth, it is the truth of verifiable facts.
But he spoke to the most powerful people in the world, who are utterly ruthless, as the most powerful people have always been.
So that what it reminds me of most, is not anything modern. But something that happened nearly 2000 years ago. And what I’m thinking of, is expressed by the word martyrdom, and the martyrs I am thinking of are those Christians, living in the Roman Empire, who refuse to bow down as the rest of the Roman citizens did, to whatever gods that they are required for them to bow down to.
And those Gods were increasingly, the deified Emperors.
And it seems to me, that’s the right thing to think of when you compare the magnitude of Julian Assange’s martyrdom … he stands for something that’s got validity, and that speaks to our conscience across 2000 years, not just the past 10 years, not just the wars in Iraq, and Afghanistan. But the kinds of things … and you don’t have to be a Christian to sympathize with those Christians who knew what their truth was, and knew the truth required, that they not bow down to deified emperors.
And that seems to me is whether we know it or not why, by night, or by day, although we might get exhausted, the truth of Julian Assange and the truth that he stood for, calls our consciences and makes us not rest until we get him freed.
3 May 2021