Even though women lean towards the Democrats more than any other party, a small minority of the left has become embroiled in a conspiracy theory regarding the accusations of sexual assault against Julian Assange. This radical group has sought to trample decades of Democratic Party advocacy on behalf of women by smearing the two possible victims of Assange. These Assange Truthers believe that the women are not victims but part of an international conspiracy to bring Assange down.
In the December 18, 2010 NY Times, Assange himself floated the conspiracy theory that powerful forces were out to get him, “Mr. Assange told the BBC that he did not know “precisely who is behind” the “conspiracy” against him, although his supporters have flooded the Internet with charges that the C.I.A. is working to discredit him. But he added, “It’s the case of any organization that’s exposing major powers, and has major opposition, that they will be attacked.””
If this sounds a little familiar to American audiences, it should. Progressives, say hello to the right wing conspiracy theorist you love to mock.
Once Assange planted the conspiracy theory, parts of the left went wild with conspiracy theories claiming that the US government wants Assange dead. Their claim is that Obama and the Pentagon have drummed up the sexual assault allegations against Assange to punish, or gasp, even silence him. To these Assange Truthers, it doesn’t matter that the Wikileaks founder walked back the conspiracy rhetoric a few days later, or that previously Assange had no time for conspiracy theories. Since these Assange Truthers can’t psychologically reconcile the divergent notions that Assange might be both a hero for his work on behalf of transparency and a deeply flawed or troubled person, they had to find a way to blame the two women who might be victims.
These lefty truthers have accomplished this by turning the women into evil co-conspirators who are out to bring their hero down. According to the Times, the two women went to the police, not too file a complaint, but because they, “wanted to get some advice” and were “unsure of how they should proceed.” It was the prosecutor who decided to pursue the matter, not the women. The Assange Truthers also ignore the time line. These are allegations that date back to August, they are nothing new.
The new twist is the willingness of some on the left to embrace a conspiracy theory, and throw an entire gender under the bus. Many of the same people who celebrated the Lily Ledbetter Equal Pay Act are now alleging that at best these women are whores, at worst they are co-conspirators. You have to hand it to these Assange fan boys and girls. They sure know how to put a creative spin on blame the victim. The Republicans could learn a lot from these Assange supporters. The question is why would members of a movement that has supported women’s rights unjustifiably demonize these women? The answer is that if these women aren’t in on the conspiracy then the whole theory falls apart. (I am not suggesting that every Assange supporter believes this, just the ones who have embraced the conspiracy theory).
What fascinates me about this story isn’t Assange’s personal behavior. He may be innocent. He may be guilty. That’s for other people to decide. What interests me is how some on the left have managed transform themselves into a Tea Party like movement that comes complete with their own conspiracy theories about the evil that is the United States government. What has happened to the left’s ability to see nuance, critically think, and examine? Many of these individuals who are blindly championing Assange are exhibiting behavior that is no different from the far right.
The comparison between the left and right also stretches into the media. The far right has Glenn Beck as their source of truth. The far left has Keith Olbermann, who in this matter has been Assange Truther # 1. We have already seen the behavior of the Olberbaggers in action when they betrayed the traditional Democratic value of taking care of the less fortunate, in order to throw an ideological hissy fit over the Bush tax cut compromise, which it turns out they were completely wrong about. These people are extremists who guided by a sense of self-righteous entitlement, and they have found their hero in the self-righteous Julian Assange. Traditional liberal values need not apply anymore. The fringe left has become just as selfish as the right. They will stomp on women and tell the unemployed to starve all in the name of ideological purity.
As a counter to the Assange Truthers, here is a bit of reality. The US government is not trying to bring down Assange with sexual assault charges. Frankly, given the size of the government it would be nearly impossible to keep such an international conspiracy a secret. What is most likely going on here is that the US government would like Assange held because they are building a case against him for conspiring to steal state secrets. They want to keep tabs on him until they are ready to charge and extradite him. The end game isn’t the sexual assault allegations. What Julian Assange has to truly fear is the possibility of being convicted and spending the rest of his life in US federal prison.
President Obama is leading a nation that has been at war for almost a decade now. The economy is still bad, and people need jobs. In short, Obama has enough to do without giving Assange a second thought. Get over yourselves Assange supporters, you aren’t that important.
Those on the left who are working every day to discredit the two women at the center of these allegations should be ashamed. They have betrayed a proud movement and turned it into a farce, not by supporting Assange, but by being so willing to neglect those in our society who need our advocacy the most.
Recently, Sarah Jones was baselessly attacked for daring to suggest that Julian Assange might be a hypocrite and that it would be possible for Assange to do great work, and maybe not be such a great guy. Julian Assange is not an infallible god. He is a human being. Not only is this post a statement of support for Sarah Jones, but it is a statement against the behavior of this new radicalized left.
These people don’t represent the left, and as we get together with friends and family this holiday season, it important to remember our true liberal/progressive values. We can support both government transparency and the rights of women. As I sit down to Christmas dinner my thoughts will be with the scared girl or woman in the emergency room having a rape kit done, or the girl waiting at the walk in clinic waiting in line to get an HIV test. Those are the real people who used to matter to the left as much as ideological principles. The far left has lost its compassion. Today, Tea bags and Revolutionary War costumes are the only things that separate the far left from the far right.
Mr. Easley is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association