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WikiLeaks is important, but so is investigating rape

December 16th, 2010     by Anastasia Szakowski     Comments

Julian Assange, founder of whistle-blowing WikiLeaks, has been the subject of global controversy after his website released 1500 secret U.S. diplomatic cables to the public, igniting the rage of U.S. government, and media and earning praise from progressives arguing for transparency and truth.

After the cables were released, it was reported that Assange had been accused of sexual assault by two different women. On August 31, Mashable reported that Swedish authorities had withdrawn their warrant for Assange, who had fled the country and escaped charges. Last week, Assange was arrested by Interpol on these same charges.

In the meantime, as Jaclyn Friedman wrote, “pundits right, left, and center got busy painting the accusations as frivolous and the accusers as lying, scheming sluts.” You know, what usually happens when a woman reports being raped by a powerful man. Assange is being defended by prominent lefties like Michael Moore, who even contributed $20,000 to Assange’s bail and encouraged others to “…not be naive about how the government works when it decides to go after its prey. Please — never, ever believe the ‘official story.’” Or in other words, “don’t believe these women.”

Assange’s defenders rely on the importance of WikiLeaks to clear his name, while many calling for serious inquiry into the charges against him are accused of siding with government control and secrecy. What we’re seeing here is profound reductionism and black-and-white thinking. While there’s no doubt in my mind that Assange’s arrest was a political move, I think it is crucial to acknowledge that WikiLeaks is much more than its founder. And while thorough criticism and exposing of government activity is important, so is serious inquiry into allegations of rape.

Today, Assange was released on bail, thanking “members of the press who were not all taken in and considered to look deeper in their work.” I can only hope that these “members of the press” continue to look deeper into the allegations made against Assange and stop dismissing them.

Must-reads:

#MooreandMe: On Progressives, Rape Apologism, and the Little Guy - Sady Doyle, Tiger Beatdown

Misogyny and the Backlash Against Assange’s Accusers - A collection of posts compiled by Feminist Frequency

What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape - Jaclyn Friedman

Tags: media savvy, rape culture

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