"I love Sweden. The entire world should be like Sweden. They all like to drink and get naked, and the women are hot. I can't think of a better nation on the planet" - Drew Curtis
Sweden has held my highest esteem since childhood; for as long as I can remember, I have thought of Sweden as a highly advanced, peaceful, just and democratic nation. This impression was greatly strengthened on reading Catch-22 at the age of 18 and finding the main character, Yossarian's view of Sweden to be thus:
He (Yossarian) would certainly have preferred Sweden, where the level of intelligence was high and where he could swim with nude beautiful girls with low, demurring voices and sire whole happy, undisciplined tribes of illegitimate Yossarians that the state would assist through parturition and launch into life without stigma.
I was sold. If a character born of the genius of Joseph Heller preferred Sweden as a place to live above all others, then so did I. In addition, the few Swedish people I have met in my life have been unfailingly kind, intelligent and thoughtful people.
It has therefore been a source of great dismay to witness a possible travesty of justice being played out in Sweden with regard to Julian Assange.
Mr. Assange will be extradited to Sweden within ten days of June 28th and will then face a hearing within four days of his arrival to decide whether or not he will be remanded in custody for questioning by the prosecution, which will be led by Marianne Ny, the same woman who gave him approval to leave Sweden in the first place after five weeks of Assange himself attempting to arrange interviews to answer the allegations against him. That these attempts were ignored along with the fact that Sweden is now so desperate to get their hands on him now should start the first alarm bells ringing.
Helene Bergman, a Swedish journalist, feminist and former radio host came out in defense of Mr. Assange last week. She expressed disgust that the empowerment of women that she fought for has led to the absurd legal circumstances Sweden now has with regard to this case and others like it.
I recommend reading the entire article as it is not long, but here is an excerpt from her blog posting:
I could never have dreamt that a legitimate struggle for equal rights and opportunities for both women and men would degenerate into state feminism devoid of common sense and reason.
Those of us who pioneered feminism in Sweden in the 1970s fought for our sexual freedom and for the right to take responsibility for ourselves, but we also fought to be able to, like men already do, enjoy sex.
Sexual liberation went hand-in-hand with the demand that we as women must be able to support ourselves and not be economically dependent on men. This is essential because only when we women are economically independent will we be able say 'no' if we feel we are being sexually used. Being a feminist is not about hating men. Feminism is about strengthening women’s self esteem, not about making ourselves into victims or being categorized by the state as victims by default.
But in today's feminist Sweden, the following can happen. In the preliminary investigation minutes for the case of Julian Assange in Sweden, I read: Woman A. says about her relationship with Julian Assange: "I was proud as hell to get the world's coolest man in bed and living in my apartment." After having sexual intercourse on numerous occasions, she goes to the police.
How did Sweden's sexual revolution of the 1970s transform into an oppressive 21st century power apparatus where men are portrayed as potential enemies and threats to the state? A state in which those who criticize the prevailing system are denied a voice in the media.
She also writes of a media witch hunt for Assange in Sweden, the kind of sensationalist shenanigans I had subconsciously believed rare or non-existent for such a serious, advanced democracy.
What's the big deal? Julian Assange is very justifiably concerned that he will be further extradited from Sweden to the US. While there is no smoking gun evidence that this will occur, leaked emails from the Stratfor security firm published by Wikileaks showed the vice president, Fred Burton, writing in an email marked 'Text Not For Pub' that 'We (the US government) have a sealed indictment against Assange. Pls protect'.
Burton also had the following sentiments, among others, to offer:
"Bankrupt the arsehole first, ruin his life. Give him 7-12 yrs for conspiracy."
"Assange is going to make a nice bride in prison. Screw the terrorist. He'll be eating cat food forever."
A peek there, readers, into a rotten, sociopathic soul.
Credence for the existence of this elusive sealed indictment is added by the fact that the US has demonstrated its hunger to get its hands on Assange via multiple statements, some violent, by high-level officials throughout the US government (and others) and intelligence community.
Further, given the fact that the Burton never dreamed his internal emails would be leaked to the public and was therefore likely to be writing his true feelings, there is a strong likelihood that the indictment does indeed exist, and that it is quite understandable for Mr. Assange to be deeply concerned. We already know how the US treats prisoners it doesn't like, before or after being found guilty of any crime. And speaking of (see previous link) Bradley Manning, the young army analyst suspected of leaking the US diplomatic cables to Wikileaks, Barack Obama himself, formerly a constitutional law professor, said that Manning had "broke[n] the law". Hmmm...someone needs to re-take their first year in law school.
Put yourself in the shoes of Assange? Wouldn't you be concerned? I know I would.
Meanwhile, the US ambassador to Australia denied this month that there is a 'secret warrant' for Mr. Assange.
But he's a 'terrorist', goddammit!? He has done great harm to the national security of the United States and put at risk the lives of hundreds of other people, no?
The US State Department itself said that there was little lasting damage from the leaks, and that the main problem was 'bad public relations'. To date, no one to my knowledge has died as a consequence of the leaks, and as the information is now in many cases out of date, it is highly unlikely any damage can be caused in the future.
Academics at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism responded to the leaks by saying that publishing the cables was 'journalistic activity protected by the First Amendment'.
There is also the matter of a trove of around 100 text messages from the alleged victims of Mr. Assange. If, and I stress if, this is true, as the article says, that the women expected to 'be paid' and get 'revenge', then the credibility of his accusers would be precisely zero. I stress this because the crime of rape, whatever the circumstances or legal definitions, must never be trivialized for any reason.
Behind all of this it is quite clear, as it has been all along, that the US government not only wants payback against Mr. Assange and Mr. Manning, but that it also wants to send a message to other future whistleblowers. We should not forget that the Obama administration has waged an unprecedented war on whistleblowers, so there are no surprises here.
Using executive power to defend state secrecy, especially when the actions shielded are extremely serious crimes, is a signature action of an oppressive regime, the kind of behavior the US routinely condemns in China and other countries. The United States can lay no claim whatsoever to being a democracy.
We can only hope that Sweden is in fact the country of justice and human rights that I had always naively believed it to be; I say naively because I never actually bothered to go and find out for myself.
If Mr. Assange ends up extradited to the US from Sweden, however it is justified, in full knowledge of how the US treats whistleblowers even before they are found guilty of any crime, then for the rest of time I will think of that nation as I already do the UK: just another poodle of the Empire.
And if Sweden does not extradite him, I might just go and live there myself someday.
The Swedish government does not care what I think, but those few Swedish people I mentioned earlier would be horrified to hear their nation described as America's fawning pet, and I know they represent the vast majority of their countrymen and women. One hopes the people of Sweden will see past the sensationalizing of Julian Assange in the media and put pressure on their elected officials to keep him from the grasp of his demonstrably corrupt enemies.
'The 99.99998271% - Why the Time is Right for Direct Democracy’ by Simon Wood is available for free download. In this 70-page book, the current state of human rights and democracy is discussed, and a simple method of implementing direct democracy is suggested.
Simon Wood on twitter (simonwood11) and Facebook or at his blog.