The Blog

Conspiracies and Insensitivity - Everything the Left Should Avoid

It's bad enough so many left wing figureheads are prepared to hold nothing back in their defense of Julian Assange, but now some are engaging themselves in conversations about rape and "the sex game", and getting it awkwardly wrong.

It's bad enough so many left wing figureheads are prepared to hold nothing back in their defense of Julian Assange, but now some are engaging themselves in conversations about rape and "the sex game", and getting it awkwardly wrong.

From December 2010 there have been new levels of hypocrisy in the form of male progressive defenders of Julian Assange, who champion their man to the extent where all accusations of rape made against him can be reduced to US revenge tactics.

Back then blogger Cath Elliot wrote:

My issue is with the fact that once again it's the same old same old story: the left finds itself a new poster boy, and suddenly leftie so-called feminist men are falling all over each other in their haste to defend him.

Anti-Americanism, and the suspicion that the world is at the beck and call of imperialist agents, got the better of feminism's "so-called male allies" and in so doing, members of the political left, mainly men, neglected their standard appeals to justice and due process.

The arrival of Julian Assange was a dream come true for left-libertarians. For them it is assumed that secrecy is a tool for political control over a clueless public, and when engaging in foreign wars this is needed more than anything. Assange came along and acted as the freedom of speech thorn in the side many progressives the world over dreamed about.

But that would usually be where the fawning ended, for most. Sadly Assange's supporters didn't stop there, even when the accusations of rape became known. Instead of differentiating the work from the man, it was assumed by many this was all the evil plan of the imperialists, hell bent on getting Assange as co-conspirator with Bradley Manning.

The Swedish link excites the conspiracy theorists even more of course. Jon Pilger noted this year, during an interview, the "truth" in Sweden's "neutrality" when in one cable it was revealed the extent of Sweden's military and intelligence co-operation with NATO.

For Pilger this link says it all: Sweden and the US are in cahoots, therefore the call for Assange's arrest is all part of the plan to eventually subject him to "unlimited solitary confinement".

But as David Allen Green has pointed out "[a]ny extradition from Sweden to the United States would actually be more difficult ... because it would require the consent of both Sweden and the United Kingdom."

Why then, we ought to be asking, this added layer of bother for the Americans if this is a conspiracy?

Though we shouldn't let legal expertise get in the way of a perfectly formed narrative that explains Assange's persecution, for which political asylum of all things is necessary. Instead we witness a telling display from a group of men, who claim to speak in the good name of socialism, about their creepy opinions of what is "bad sex etiquette".

On this, George Galloway (probably the most left wing member of the UK parliament today) waxed:

not everybody needs to be asked prior to each insertion. Some people believe that when you go to bed with somebody, take off your clothes, and have sex with them and then fall asleep, you're already in the sex game with them.

Sex game? These really are not words one wants to hear said in conjunction with a women who has made a rape allegation against someone. Galloway went on to say that even if the claim is 100% true, this still doesn't constitute rape in the way "we" know it (it does by the way!). But this benefit of doubt only lasts a short time before he says:

I don't believe either of those women, I don't believe either of these stories.

Talk of this type didn't start here. One of the left's very favourite heroes (unlike Galloway who even in leftist crowds is very divisive) Tony Benn waded into the sex/rape debate in February 2011 at a Stop the War Coalition meeting (see video at around 03.00). Pointing out how he and others who are so keen to embrace sexual equality take rape charges very seriously, he went on to say:

...the charge of rape simply doesn't stand up to examination. First of all, the charges are that it was a non-consensual relationship. Well that's very different from rape [which] I'm sure most people would understand to be the seizure by force of a woman for the gratification of a man's need, and all that is said of Julian Assange is that without using a condom he was guilty of rape - and if that is the charge then I tell you a lot of people in this country would be guilty of rape on a daily basis. (AUDIENCE LAUGHTER)

This all before we even mention Ecuadoran chief diplomat Ricardo Patino who said that the rape charges levelled at Assange were "hilarious". A foreign minister in the government of the country which has designs on being what The Economic Timesrecently described as the "standard-bearer of leftist, populist and nationalist opposition to the United States."

None of this should sit very well with us, but for socialists this is especially embarrassing as its our number who are making these comments.

It's one thing to be concerned at the US - who don't pretend anything but animosity towards Assange. But to invent narratives where no more are needed, then muddy themselves by making dreadful, ill-considered and very insensitive remarks about the sexual conduct of the alleged rape victims, is totally beyond the pale.