Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Elmer Smith and Wikileaks

I don't get this point from Elmer Smith about Julian Assange:
"But if this is an act of civil disobedience, he should be willing to face the consequences, the way Freedom Riders did when they willingly went to jail for defying unjust Jim Crow laws. Assange, on the other hand, seems willing to let Pfc. Bradley Manning rot in jail. Manning is being held in military detention for allegedly passing the cache of documents off to him while Assange seeks asylum in a place without an extradition treaty with the U.S."

I don't know. Civil disobedience is an act of defying the authorities. Getting arrested by them proves that they have the authority, but if you see your actions in terms of power and resistance, I'm not sure why it would be noble to defy the authorities and then submit yourself to them for punishment. Why be a martyr if you can keep on fighting?

UPDATE: A friend comments: "Yeah, that Rosa Parks totally had the wrong idea."

Er... let me clarify. What Rosa Parks did was noble and, ultimately, empowering. It was also probably the right strategy for the time and place: Submitting to arrests worked, ultimately, to shame the authorities who were acting oppressively. But while that's the most prominent example of civil disobedience in our society, it's not the only model. And if you grant that Assange sees himself in this mode, as Smith does, I'm not sure why you'd advocate that it's the right model for him -- aside, of course, from the fact that Smith merely wants to see Assange behind bars.

1 comment:

Monkey RobbL said...

It's also worth noting that Assange is neither a US resident nor citizen. By what moral or civic calculus should Assange feel obligated to submit himself in any way to US authority?