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Thanks in part to Michael Moore, Julian Assange made bail today in London on Swedish charges of sexual misconduct. (Even as prosecutors appeal bail for Assange, and the WikiLeaks founder remains in custody.)
Moore is fighting for Assange, and WikiLeaks, by helping the embattled leader by posting $20,000 of his own money for bail. Additionally Moore has taken to the Internet to explain why he is supporting the cause of leaking confidential military and corporate documents without impunity.
While I think it's still to be determined whether WikiLeaks is brilliant or devastating, Moore is really off-the-mark in his blanket support. Or rather, incredibly naive if he thinks WikiLeaks could actually save the world.
Don't get me wrong, I'm nothing but grateful over the boldness of Moore's body of work, also exposing corporate and governmental wrongs. I can see how he equates Assange's project to his own, but when Moore claims that transparency could have prevented the war in Iraq (or at least stopped Dick Cheney) and echos the claims that WikiLeaks could have prevented 9/11, he's wrong.
Moore is a wide-eyed idealist, and it's never more apparent than when he says, "Perhaps the next war won't be so easy because the tables have been turned -- and now it's Big Brother who's being watched ... by us!"
He opines that perhaps Cheney would have been afraid to fabricate the "facts" that sent us to war with Iraq, completely forgetting that there were a huge number of us who never believed Iraq was a threat. Remember those massive protests, Michael? You should, since you were incredibly vocal as you were collecting awards for Bowling for Columbine. The truth was out there, and it didn't stop an administration hell-bent on a war with Iraq.
As for 9/11, Osama bin Laden wasn't a stranger to the rest of the world. Before the attacks a fellow New Yorker, who was also unlucky enough to live a few blocks from the Twin Towers, alarmed her family while on vacation at the Jersey Shore when she read a newspaper report that said this strange man wanted to kill Americans. She was a friend of mine, and at the time said, "How come nobody cares about this?" People knew. The media reported, and nobody cared because the idea was so unfathomable.
WikiLeaks won't stop terrorists. WikiLeaks won't stop corporate crime and backroom deals by heads of state. If all it took was a hit documentary or news report, the health care battle would have been non-existent and we'd all be sitting pretty with the public option right about now.
WikiLeaks and Michael Moore documentaries will not save us from greed, bullies, and evil. Just like politicians will continue to have affairs even as every text and sex tape are exposed to the light, people driven to destroy will continue to do so. You should continue your work, and I'll buy a ticket. But GM didn't change as a result of Roger & Me, and Dick Cheney wouldn't have been afraid of Assange.
Support Assange against weird (and probably wildly inaccurate) charges if you'd like, but don't pretend WikiLeaks is bigger than it is. Only the future will tell if Assange is a visionary or a spoiled brat who wasn't invited to the party. But our future won't be dramatically altered, for the good, as a result of a guy spilling international secrets to a half-assedly interested public.
Do you think WikiLeaks could change the course of governmental decisions?
Image via Brave New Films/Flickr