Friday, April 19, 2019

Julian Assange: Ecuadorian defense and Trudeau’s cowardice


As I write this there are riots in the streets of Ecuador protesting the arrest of Julian Assange.  Thank the human will to find the good and the free, wherever it lives, that there are people in the streets somewhere protesting the threatened demise of freedom of speech.  But nothing from Canada.   Nada.  Not a peep of concern for Freedom of speech here.  Trudeau obviously must abide by directions from Trump.  He seems to tremble in fear of being severely chastised by Trump once again. When rebuked for even bringing up the subject of gender balance while in trade discussions, Trump called Trudeau “weak”.  Trudeau cowered like a whipped puppy. I doubt Trudeau will ever mention gender equality again to the Americans, especially when discussing with Trump what Canada  should do about any given issue to put Trudeau policies  more in line with the US agenda.


Nevertheless, with the arrest of Assange we are all in danger of letting what is left of our right to freedom of speech slip away.  This danger is omnipresent.  We hear it in all directions. From Israel we hear their demands that any criticism of Israel should be labelled as hate crime.  Furthermore, Israel insists the US government must adhere to Israel’s further demand that every state government in the US must require signatures of promises not to join or sympathize with the BDS movement before they give out state contracts. The BDS movement calls for a boycott of Israeli goods until Israel stops tormenting the Palestinians to death.   But Trumps loves Netanyahu.   He seems willing to give Netanyahu all he wants to prove his heart felt devotion, he will give away land (the Golan Heights) that doesn’t belong to Trump or Netanyahu, change embassy locations, support continuous Israel settlements on other Palestinian lands (the West Bank) that doesn’t belong to either of them, and support the shooting of unarmed protestors with live ammunition. Yes, I know that the young Palestinians are throwing sticks and stones but that doesn’t compute with live ammunition.  Another thing that chokes me is that Netanyahu has been able to seduce Trump into forcing Americans to defile and reject their own Constitution…the first Amendment anchors freedom of speech as vital to American freedom. It reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, of prohibiting the free exercise therefor; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition government for a redress of grievances”.


And what does the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms say about freedom of speech? In section 2:  “Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: a. freedom of conscience and religion; b. freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication; c. freedom of peaceful assembly; and d. freedom of association”.  Sounds wonderful, right?  Then why have we been made so fearful of our own rules and laws?  Scared, like little mice, to speak up, to riot in the streets as the Ecuadorians are doing to try to save their rights to free speech, as well as those of Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning.


We all need freedom of speech.  To try to make some speech criminal according to who is doing the speaking is not freedom.  It is state censorship.  If I criticize Israel I am called anti-Semitic.  If I find fault in Islam’s treatment of women I am labeled an Islamophobe.  If I find fault with Christianity, especially what I call the toxic fundamentalist kind that needs war (especially a great world destroying one) so that the “rapture” will descend upon them, I am told I shouldn’t say such things, or else I’m called names.  My point is that all of these religious leaders think they have the one true, correct message straight from a higher power and if we don’t agree we will be severely punished.  These religious organizations all affect governments.  They affect how our laws are made, what our values are considered to be, what is taught in our schools. They must be discussed in open forums and to do this we must be able to say what we think of the world, how it is being formed, what is happening to the climate, what all of  the never ending wars are really about, and what is happening to the evolution of the human species.  We cannot do this without freedom of speech and association.  Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning are my heroes.  I am very happy to see they are also considered heroes by many people in Ecuador. It is wonderful to know that these people, so far from us, recognize that freedom of speech is necessary to human life.  I hope these Ecuadorians take good care of themselves.  We need them as examples of people yearning for freedom who are strong enough to put their lives on the line.

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