Monday, December 13, 2010

Imagine Reading a Poem by Liu Xiaobo to Obama

Last Friday, as the U.S. State Department and Justice Department continued efforts to have Australian journalist, writer, blogger and global civil rights activist Julian Assange illegally transported from Europe to the U.S. or Guantanamo Bay, and as Sen. Bernie Sanders made his epic 8 hour and 35 minute speech against President Obama's tax sellout to billionaires, Obama made what arguably was the most self-serving announcement ever on the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize. It began, quite inappropriately, with:
One year ago, I was humbled to receive the Nobel Peace Prize -- an award that speaks to our highest aspirations, and that has been claimed by giants of history and courageous advocates who have sacrificed for freedom and justice.
Obama went on:
We respect China's extraordinary accomplishment in lifting millions out of poverty, and believe that human rights include the dignity that comes with freedom from want.
Mr. Liu reminds us that human dignity also depends upon the advance of democracy, open society, and the rule of law. The values he espouses are universal, his struggle is peaceful, and he should be released as soon as possible.
What a crock of horse shit.

While on the one hand, Obama touts "the advance of democracy," his administration has stifled democracy in Honduras, burying the advice of our Honduran ambassador when a bunch of aqcuaintences of Attorney General Eric Holder (from Holder's union busting for Chiquita Banana days) crushed democracy in that country, turning it back into a Nixonesque "banana republic." If it weren't for Julain Assange's efforts, we wouldn't know about that and a lot of other burying of democracy on Obama's hands.

Open society and the rule of law? Again, as jailed open democracy and rule of law advocate Assange has shown us, Obama's State Department routinely quashes open societies and could give a rat's ass about the rule of law, both here and abroad. And an open society? Here's Glenn Greenwald's take when Assange initially appeared publicly to answer questions about the State Department WikiLeaks initial release:

This weekend, WikiLeaks released over 400,000 classified documents of the Iraq War detailing genuinely horrific facts about massive civilian death, U.S. complicity in widespread Iraqi torture, systematic government deceit over body counts, and the slaughter of civilians by American forces about which Daniel Ellsberg himself said, as the New York Times put it: "many of the civilian deaths there could be counted as murder."

Predictably, just as happened with Ellsberg, there is now a major, coordinated effort underway to smear WikiLeaks' founder, Julian Assange, and to malign his mental health -- all as a means of distracting attention away from these highly disturbing revelations and to impede the ability of WikiLeaks to further expose government secrets and wrongdoing with its leaks. But now, the smear campaign is led not by Executive Branch officials, but by members of the establishment media. As the intelligence community reporter Tim Shorrock wrote today on Twitter: "When Dan Ellsberg leaked [the] Pentagon Papers, Nixon's henchmen tried to destroy his reputation. Today w/Wikileaks & Assange, media does the job."

Yesterday, Assange walked out of an interview with CNN, which he thought had been arranged to discuss the significance of the Iraq War revelations, because the CNN "reporter" seemed interested in asking only about petty, vapid rumors about Assange himself, not the substance of the leaks. The Nation's Greg Mitchell summarized that interview this way: "Assange to CNN: 'Do you want to talk about deaths of 104,000 people or my personal life?'" CNN's answer could not have been clearer: the latter, definitely.

Obama's immense hypocrisy in his statement on the awarding of this prize to Liu Xiaobo will no doubt be matched as he and his legal and diplomatic department heads continue to paint Julian Asssange as some sort of Lord Haw-Haw, Tokyo Rose, Julius/Ethel Rosenberg or - as they may well be attempting - a more pathetic kind of character, such as Cynthia Murphy.

Obama did get one thing right in his statement on his Nobel Peace Prize successor:

Mr. Liu Xiaobo is far more deserving of this award than I was.

Here's a poem by Liu Xiaobo. I'll imagine I'm reading it to President Obama, after I've told him the reading is dedicated to Julian Assange:

A Small Rat in Prison
for little Xia

A small rat passes through the iron bars
paces back and forth on the window ledge
the peeling walls are watching him
the blood-filled mosquitoes are watching him
he even draws the moon from the sky,
shadow casts down
beauty, as if in flight

a very gentryman the rat tonight
doesn't eat nor drink nor grind his teeth
as he stares with his sly bright eyes,
strolling in the moonlight

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