Rachael , I have to agree with you that the circumstances of Julian Assange’s arrest are suspicious as hell and that the charges against Assange seem credible enough. I’m surprised at how many people find it impossible to hold both thoughts in their heads at once and believe that because Interpol is exploiting the sexual assault charges to get Assange, it must mean the charges themselves are lies. I often caution people not to assume conspiracy when opportunism is what’s likely in play. Even before all this came out, I really disliked the hero worship of Assange, who has always put me off my lunch. It’s possible both that Wikileaks is a necessary curative for government overreach and that its leader is out to serve his own ego needs above all. Anyone who thinks that’s impossible needs to think harder about what’s going on when politicians get sentimental on the campaign trail.
What is disgusting to me is how much of the left has conveniently forgotten that women who file rape charges can pretty much always expect to have their names dragged through the mud, unless they were “lucky” enough to be raped by someone of much lower social status who also jumped out of the bushes to rape them. And even then, it’s iffy if a woman gets a sympathetic audience. Instead, you’re seeing a bunch of WikiLeaks defenders start acting like they sprung from anti-feminist message boards, dragging out every hoary slam against the accusers possible. My favorite has to be that one of the accusers is a “radical feminist.” Well, then! I guess we can all just go home now, since everyone knows that term means “man hater,” right?
Except it doesn’t. “Radical feminist,” when a woman applies it to herself, usually just means that she thinks it will take more than a few policy reforms to bring an end to sexism. It’s a broad term that encompasses everyone from Andrea Dworkin to Susie Bright. It’s not even particularly controversial–most feminists I know are “radical” in this sense, and most of us love men (and would point out that patriarchy hurts men, too ). More importantly for this case, that a woman who describes herself as a “radical feminist” is the accuser just lends credence to the story that’s being told. It makes sense that a leftist activist like Assange would socialize with other leftists. And most men who rape choose women in their own social circles. So, if Assange did the crime, then it makes sense that his victim would be someone who is a political radical like he is.
Other accusations to discredit the alleged victims also fall apart on even cursory examination. The accusation that one of the women had CIA ties is a yoga-master-level stretch . The fact that the alleged victims were reluctant to turn Assange in and asked the police if there was a way to get justice without going through the criminal justice system just lends credibility to the story. In my long experience of blogging about rape and hearing survivor stories, I can assure you that many to most victims see the legal system as a last resort, only to be used if there seems to be no other means of getting the rapist to stop abusing women in his community.
It seems to me the most surefooted grounds for outrage in this case is the way that Interpol is suddenly pretending they care about rounding up sex offenders who commit difficult-to-prove crimes that have minor punishments in the rare event someone is found guilty. Assange’s guilt or innocence is irrelevant to that question, and there’s no need to attack two women who we have no reason to believe are liars.