Sunday, December 12, 2010

Whoa. Slow Down Cowboy.

A comment on today's New York Times article:

WikiLeaks Taps Power of the Press

Whoa. Let’s just slow down a bit. Language like “spilling information willy-nilly and recklessly endangering lives”, “Mr. Assange’s own core anarchism”, “the State Department is an illegitimate organization.”

Democracy is a good thing. American democracy is especially vital. The health of American institutions reflects well (or poorly) on other democracies around the world, because of its iconic status as a republic founded on very fine principles and practices. If democracy fails in the USA, what hope has democracy of surviving in the rest of the world? Recall the absolutely vital importance of American democracy to the survival of Britain during WWII. Absolutely vital.

It is important for Americans to support WikiLeaks (and try to read some accurate and non-sensational accounts online) for America’s own sake. Information is the currency of democracy. At the moment America is looking a little uncomfortably like China in its attempt to suppress information that may embarrass politicians and reveal those inner workings of government that are the legitimate concern of the people. This is not a good look.

I personally have been very pro-American and pro-democracy all my life. I am concerned that anti-democratic forces (which are alive and well in every democracy) have become too powerful since 9/11.

If WikiLeaks goes under, what hope is there for Chinese, Russian, North Korean, Iranian, Burmese whistle-blowers to leak government or corporate (state-owned) wrong-doing to a safe and anonymous repository?

Imagine the lives that might have been saved if the Internet and WikiLeaks had been around in the 20s, 30s and 40s. Stalin’s terror campaigns might have come to life much sooner. It wasn’t until Stalin’s death that he was denounced for his brutal reign of terror. And what if someone working for a contractor building death chambers at Hitler’s concentration camps had been able to upload the blueprints?

We want to see democracy flourish in places like China and Burma. We need democracy to shine more brightly in America too. That will help promote world peace and provide a beacon for others.

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