Assange @RT: Russia Provides A Platform To Western Dissidents

As I noted before, the symmetry is amusing to say the least. Anti-regime characters such as Nemtsov and Navalny, who are marginal in Russia (both in popularity and media presence – as is logical, nothing undemocratic about that), are treated as Genuine Voices of the Russian People by the Western media. In its turn, Russia has wised up and returns the favor by providing a platform to Western dissidents such as Julian Assange, who by any halfway objective standards meets the definition of a political prisoner.

As of today, he has begun a 12 part series of interviews hosted by RT (the first one, an interview with Hezbollah head Hassan Nasrallah, is linked to above; Kevin Gosztola provides an excellent summary). Whatever one’s personal attitudes towards Wikileaks, Hezbollah, Israel, the US, etc. it is beyond dispute that this is of public interest and as such, valid journalism. No wonder then that Independent Western Journalists (who as Greenwald repeatedly shows are nothing of the sort, being consistently deferential to state power in the West) and assorted blowhards like the plagiarist hack Luke Harding, Konstantin von Eggert, and the SWP Hive are all doing double time to condemn Assange, and RT for daring to give him a voice.

That is of course their prerogative, but it does cast a very unflattering light on their self-appointed status as champions of universalist dissidence and free speech. Obviously RT isn’t quite that either, but then again, it doesn’t claim to be. In other words, it has enough decency to avoid Western-style moralistic hypocrisy.

Comments

  1. Haven’t seen this yet, looking forward to it. Assange gave a great interview in the run up to the show ( http://rt.com/news/rt-assange-show-wikileaks-125/ ) which included:

    * “Now, if WikiLeaks had been producing voluminous material about Russia, perhaps that situation would be different. But in the case that we are in at the moment, our major confrontation is with the West, although we have published material for many countries.”

    * “RT is a voice of Russia, so it looks at things from the Russian agenda. The BBC is a voice of the British government. Voice of America is a voice of the American government. It is the clashing of these voices together that reveals the truth about the world as a whole. ”

    This is true. All media are compromised and the key is using each one in the areas where they can be critical (RT cannot do Russia, Al Jazeera has been unable to cover Qatar or Bahrein, Western media… forget them).

    The whole thing is worth listening to. Assange clearly has a very well-developed and clear concept of power and human nature, and how to improve things despite them.

  2. It has seemed to me for a long time that Russia and the US/UK are on opposite trajectories. Russia is becoming more democratic and the US/UK are becoming more authoritarian.

    What would happen if Assange somehow escaped to Russia. Would Russia grant him political asylum?

    On the subject of Assange’s interview with Hassan Nasrallah, I actually thought it was a good interview.

    • Granting political asylum to Assange would be quite proper. If maggot mafioso Berezovsky can have it in the UK then a whistle blower like Assange surely deserves as much and more.

  3. Here is RT’s own reposte to the attacks on the Assange interview.

    http://rt.com/news/assange-world-tomorrow-reaction-360/

    The most interesting thing in this reposte is the accuracy with which Assange anticipated the smears that would be hurled at him.

  4. I remember talking to an Irishman once who mentioned that the BBC refused to air his interview w/certain veterans of the 1916 Easter uprising who were incredibly still alive in the 1990s. I told him this prohibition seemed bizarre since the BBC would interview German veterans of WWII including those who likely knew of or participated in atrocities, and 1916 was more than seventy years past and unlikely to inflame IRA rejectionists in the present. Just goes to show even very old/outdated habits die hard.

  5. And I for one think Nasrallah a mob boss. But Al-Jazeera has interviewed him, if I’m not mistaken, and they don’t get condemned for it.

  6. I thought it was interesting when Julian tried (very gently and respectfully) to challenge Nasrallah’s religious views. I am guessing Julian is an atheist, and he posed it, like, how can you oppose a monolothic unipolar power in this world (=USA), but approve of a monolithic unipolar power in the spiritual world (=God). Nasrallah sincerely misunderstood Julian’s point, which questioned the right of an authoritarian God to rule over people (without their democratic consent), and mistakenly thought he was talking about polytheism. So Nasrallah goes off on this tangent about how the Universe isn’t big enough to hold more than one god, because they would end up at loggerheads with each other. Julian was too polite to clarify and press him further, but that’s okay, because mostly we (viewers) were interested in Hezbollah’s policies and not in Nasrallah’s religious beliefs. Still fascinating, though, to see two intellectuals (from completely different and opposite cultures) dicussing stuff in the realm of pure ideas.

    • Jennifer Hor says:

      Hi Yalensis,

      Nasrallah certainly was surprised at that question and had to take a deep breath!
      But elsewhere in the interview he gave answers that suggest he is tolerant of other relgious beliefs.

      His reply was a good one though: social justice, struggle for freedom and self-determination are instinctive and human-based and belief in one God as expressed through the Abrahamic religions is a natural human instinct so these all go together and he sees no contradictions. Although you could counter that by saying Hinduism is essentially monotheistic because all gods in Hinduism are manifestations of Brahman the supreme god.

      For a son of a greengrocer he’s not doing badly. Wish we could say that about a daughter of a greengrocer in the UK years ago!

      • Hi, Jennifer,
        Yes I agree, I was surprised how well Nasrallah acquitted himself, and I did come away with a somewhat improved opinion of Hezbollah. Not so much about the religious stuff (they will never convince me about that!), as the overall debate. N also did a good explanation of the tricky relationship between Hezbollah and the Syrian government. In summary, the interview itself was interesting and newsworthy, and the meta-news aspect (that RT is giving Julian this forum to interview people whom the West consider pariahs) is also interesting. Does anybody know who his next guest is going to be?

        • Jennifer Hor says:

          Yalensis,

          You can follow the episodes at this link http://worldtomorrow.wikileaks.org/. I think Assange will concentrate on interviewing people the West considers beyond the pale. I’d be interested to see Assange interview Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Hugo Chavez or Evo Morales (President of Bolivia); his interviewees won’t be limited to politicians.

          I noted that Julian Assange treated Nasrallah with respect and allowed him to express his opinions clearly. Assange didn’t try to stamp his personality on the interview and he acknowledged the contributions of the interpreters. Other Western journalists would have asked N loaded questions of the “Are you still beating your wife?” type and would have interrupted him constantly, trying to distort his replies and make him fit their expectations or to anger him somehow. They would have been very insolent, sneering and hostile towards him.

          • @Jennifer, Yes, I also noticed, and liked, the fact that Julian acknowledged his interpreters. Simultaneous translation is a tough job. I haven’t done it myself (except informally), but I know a little bit about how it works, and I have an awful lot of respect for this particular career. The professional interpreter tries to make him/herself invisible, giving the principals the illusion that they are speaking directly to one another. Due to this, the interpreters often are treated like mere machines, so it was a nice touch for Julian to acknowledge them at the end, although it would have been inappropriate to pay too much attention to them during the actual interview.

  7. Some people cling to the Almighty Status Quo view of what’s Left and Right like imperial Japanese in 45′ on some godforsaken rock in the Pacific clung to their Emperor or some Germans as depicted in Downfall shouted fanatical allegiance to their Fuhrer even within ear shot of the Red Army’s guns…Senor Equis

    3h Mr X ‏ @EquisMr
    Reply Delete FavoritedFavorite · Close Open Details
    @catfitz @streetwiseprof want an example of what’s more relevant? Here — starving law students http://pjmedia.com/richardfernandez/2012/04/17/failure-in-the-first-degree/

    Mr X ‏ @EquisMr
    @catfitz and note not a single person who underwrote this poor guy’s student loans or bankster who packaged them will be fired. Major fail

    3h CatherineFitzpatrick ‏ @catfitz
    @EquisMr why would we fire people who wrote bad loans? Where are the parents & the responsibility of the individual student here?

    CatherineFitzpatrick ‏ @catfitz
    @EquisMr @streetwiseprof nobody held a gun to their head to go into such debt to go to law school. Could they work at college as I did?

    Mr X ‏ @EquisMr
    @catfitz @streetwiseprof Answer is for the ‘elite’ or even middling law schools, no. Ur generation went to school prior to Nixon 71′ dv’d [devalued the] $ [U.S. dollar]

    2h Mr X ‏ @EquisMr
    @catfitz in a free market like a marriage it takes 2 to tango, both parties in a contract have obligations. One side escaping theirs

    2h Mr X ‏ @EquisMr
    @catfitz in that they get to put their crap loans onto the Fed, US taxpayer, while individual a debt slave for life. That makes me want2OWS [join Occupy Wall Street]

    Mr X ‏ @EquisMr
    @catfitz and I’m a RIGHT winger. No surp SWP prefers debating more left l[ike]@AnatolyKarlin. Mainline GOPers fear Ronulans, hence the censorship [libel, defamation, lies about hated Ronulans etc etc]

    40m CatherineFitzpatrick ‏ @catfitz
    @EquisMr yes you prove my point again and again that pro-Kremlin includes right wing, conservatives, Paulians, etc.

    Mr X @EquisMR to catfitz: SWP expects ppl to believe w/straight face that Paul spent x times more than in 08′ and got exact same result in MN, NV in ’12?

    37m CatherineFitzpatrick ‏ @catfitz
    @EquisMr I believe SWP with a straight face, yes. Paul is a cult figure w cult following. Spooky. SWP is right.

    And Catherine, you and ReginaldQuill defame the thousands of American servicemen who’ve donated to Paul — more individual donations than to any other single candidate — when you make such statements. You and Andy Dzughashvili can’t suppress that fact, so you just dance around it. Shame on you.

    AK Edit: Could you please keep this to Twitter? Thanks.

    • No prob.

      • yalensis says:

        Another reason I don’t like twitter – I can’t figure out what the heck those people are talking about. Worst debating forum EVER! Although I did get the one little factoid that Ron Paul supporters are called “Ronulans”. That’s cute. But I still insist on calling the whole lot of them “Randians” .

  8. “It has seemed to me for a long time that Russia and the US/UK are on opposite trajectories. Russia is becoming more democratic and the US/UK are becoming more authoritarian.” Yes! Spoken like a Greek who’s watched Anglo-American media pass over the rape of his homeland by fascist Eurocrats like it’s no big deal.

  9. donnyess says:

    RT could potentially face trademark infringement litigation sometime before the end of the year.
    http://www.pcworld.com/article/253954/windows_rt_to_support_armbased_processors.html#tk.mod_stln

    My feeling about Assange is that if he were a stand-up guy he would have ceased standing up a long time ago. Harding makes a good point about RT not showing real Russians on their programs.

    • Nobody outisde (or inside) of Russia will watch RT if they just show pictures of happy Russians. To be ABOUT Russia and interesting to viewers, they would have to focus on hardhitting exposes. But that isn’t their mission statement or the kind of viewers they are trying to attract. As comments to the Guardian article, show, RT is finding their audience in people who crave more balanced international news and a different POV from what they see on pro-imperialist media like BBC, FOX and Al Jazeera.

      • From all the chatter about RT I see on the interwebz it looks like they are actually making an impact. Kudos to them. I don’t care if they are biased. The west and its media dogs are the very definition of the word bias and of bloody hypocrisy.

  10. There is more than enough pro-Western propaganda in the world, not to mention Hollyweird so it’s only fair to give the other side a voice even when we don’t exactly like what they’re saying!

  11. http://streetwiseprofessor.com/?p=6238#comment-91891

    And I would just like to say on standards of deceny and conduct and allegedly writing more than the host blogger at the SWP hive (a lie)…let’s briefly compare. I did accuse him of soft-pedaling Jon the Don Corzine’s theft of 1.2 billion in customer funds and getting away with while playing up every example of corruption in Russia. And of covering for his buddies at the CME and failing to criticize things that have genuine libertarians up in arms such as the TSA, NDAA, SOPA, CISPA et al. In fact Pirrong said SOPA was no big deal. He also compared Ron Paul supporters to the genocidal Khmer Rouge, while yammering about ‘decency’.

    I never called for anybody to be interned like some of SWP’s commenters who then lied and said they didn’t (vorobey), never denounced everyone as a KGB operative (Anders) or ZeroHedge as such based on flimsy evidence (Pirrong), didn’t call for Ron Paul supporters to be aggressively monitored by the FBI or called them neo-Confederates out of the SPLC playbook (Reggie Cointelrpo/DHS wannabe Quill). I didn’t post huge thread-clogging rants at 3 a.m. Oslo time while probably drunk like Anders routinely did, and didn’t use foul language like SWP’s Twitter groupie LibertyMeow upon being confronted with anyone not in love with Mittens Romney.

    I did make fun of his alleged Kiwi commenter who seemed fixated on Georgia’s cause and compared him to a white American guy trying to join MeCha or MS-13, but that was about all. That’s about all I did over at the SWP ‘hive mind’.

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