David Hockney A Bigger Splash 1967
Just trying to find angles here. Trying to find people who could help Julian Assange. But so many of them are already dead. Can you imagine how different things might have been if Martin Luther King had still been alive to speak out on his situation? Or Muhammad Ali, JFK and Bobby Kennedy? Nelson Mandela? How about Bob Marley? Or, you know, Johnny Cash? Joe Strummer? We lost so many voices, and so few appear to have emerged to take their place. Have we lost too many? Are we done? Is this it?
I was thinking about Jerry Dammers recently. Not a well-known name to many. But he wrote and produced an incredibly strong song and video in the last days that Nelson Mandela was still in captivity. And I was thinking why doesn’t anyone produce something equally as strong for Assange today? And no, I couldn’t come up with an answer. The world has changed enormously, but if the P. Diddys, the Coldplays, Radioheads and Beyonce’s of this world would want to release a song like Jerry Dammers did 35 years ago, they could, and through social media, they could give it as much weight as back then. And where’s Bruce Springsteen anyway?
So here’s calling on all those people. Here’s what Dammers and his brilliant crew did in 1984, and I can’t not notice how it involves both black and white people working seamlessly together. At that time in Britain, that was normal. Try that today with all the Brexit crap and the Hostile Environment nonsense.
So why can’t we have an equally powerful song for Julian Assange? What happened to music? Was Mandela’s situation that much worse than Assange’s? Was the pressure to free him that much stronger? And if so, who applied that pressure? Sure, 21 years in captivity is more than 7, but is there an essential difference? Are you so blind that you cannot see? Are you so deaf that you cannot hear? In the end both men were locked up for all the wrong reasons, no?
Sure, that could have been contested by the South African apartheid regime back when, just as it is by the US apartheid regime today, but does anybody in either case really think any of it is justified?
A month ago, I wrote Julian Assange Is Today’s Martin Luther King, and many people said something in the vein of: “he’s nowhere near”. But is that even true, and even if it were, does that justify the way he’s being treated?
Julian Assange has been smeared with sexual allegations, just like MLK. In MLK’s case it was courtesy of J. Edgar Hoover. In Assange’s case, it was -is- way more elaborate, they have 3-4 governments involved. Imagine Hoover having the tools the FBI and MI6 have today. How scary is that? Well, we’re not so far removed from just that, and Assange was the primary person to warn us about exactly this.
He saw it all coming. It’s why he was brought down. Too smart. He fought the law and the law won (well, the law…). But that is not a good thing for you or me, at all.
But, you know, where is Jerry Dammers? We know where Johnny Cash and Bob Marley are, and Joe Strummer and Nelson Mandela. They’re long gone. But we’re supposed to replace them with equal voices of our own, or whatever they’ve done, the sacrifices they’ve made, will fade into some distant haze.
What’s going on here? Everybody values their bank accounts more than their freedom now? Would you like to talk to Johnny Cash or Bob Marley about that choice? Are we just dumbing down, no more opinions of our own, no more principles?
You too want to be breaking rocks in the hot sun? You’re well on your way.