By Matthew Rothschild on December 07, 2010

So now Julian Assange is under arrest.

I’m in no position to fully weigh the evidence against him, and I take all allegations of rape and sexual misconduct seriously.

But I wonder: His accusers allegedly sent text messages and tweets boasting about having sex with him, and the allegations reportedly include that he didn’t use a condom when having consensual sex.

And I wonder: Would any other person charged on such flimsy evidence in Sweden really have interested British law enforcement?

What I know for an absolute fact is that the U.S. government is intent on destroying him.

They want to destroy him not for allegedly committing a sex crime but for committing the crime of journalism, for exercising the right of free speech and freedom of the press.

Until his arrest, the U.S. government seemed to be putting more pressure on him than Osama bin Laden.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said he had attacked not only the United States but the entire world.

Newt Gingrich demanded that he be named an enemy combatant and sent, I guess, to Guantanamo or Bagram.

Bill O’Reilly said he should be assassinated.

This is the most reactionary, repressive response to speech and to the press since Daniel Ellsberg’s Pentagon papers.

And it’s eerily reminiscent of a scene in “Fair Game” when Naomi Watts, playing Valerie Plame, yells at Sean Penn, playing her husband, Ambassador Joe Wilson. She tells him that they are just two little people up against the White House, which can crush them.

It’s all the same issue: The empire can’t stand to have someone pointing out that it’s got no clothes on—or that it’s linen is dirty.

It doesn’t matter whether that person is Ellsberg, Ambassador Joe Wilson, or Julian Assange.

The empire will do what it can to destroy that person. And so it is.

If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story "Two Can Play the Extortion Game in Congress."

Follow Matthew Rothschild @mattrothschild on Twitter

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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