Your position seems to be growing, taking on global implications. This morning, a supporter of WikiLeaks and a member of parliament in Iceland, Brigitta Jonsdottir, stated that the United States Justice Department subpoenaed information about her.
Has Washington concluded that Julian Assange is a terrorist?
Terrorist = middle class rebel: that association is easily made. But let's look at it closely.
It is true that Julian Assange is a middle class rebel. It is also true that most terrorists are middle class rebels. Therefore, …
Here reality comes marching in, destroys the syllogism. Because most terrorists are middle class rebels, it does not follow that most middle class rebels are terrorists.
I wrote elsewhere:
Is every middle class rebel a potential terrorist? The answer is what no lawyer wants to hear when he cross-examines: yes, but. To calculate the actual likelihood of a particular rebel becoming a terrorist, you would have to know two unavailable numbers: the number of middle class people in the world -- most of them rebel at one time or another -- as well as the number of terrorists. I suspect the probability is somewhere in the vicinity of an American dying in a terrorist attack: 1 in 69,000. That is less than dying in an airplane crash (1 in 40,000) or being killed by lightning (1 in 39,000).
Beware, Joe B.: there are grave political consequences in concluding that all or even most middle class rebels are terrorists:
Simply stated, there is nothing that certain forces of repression commanded by a handful of regimes would like more than to make an easy, quick, one-to-one equation of middle class rebels with terrorists; in fact, they are already making that equation. It is visible with every 17-year-old protester who gets his head cracked and is imprisoned as a 'terrorist.'" (The Source of Terrorism: Middle Class Rebellion, pp. 168-9).
My definition of "terrorist" (ibid., p. 142) is demanding -- as it should be if you are the least concerned about human rights and the growing abuse of a word that can eventually destroy them:
A terrorist is usually a middle class rebel (1) experiencing magnified marginal or transitional conditions, who (2) voluntarily (3) goes through certain rites of passage, among which are (4) clique membership and (5) a deliberate decision to commit a criminal act that is almost always (6) violent and usually (7) murder, in (8) the name of higher intentions or convictions without (9) retaining consciously the ambiguity of his criminal act and his higher intentions/convictions. He expresses powerful, unconscious, ambivalent emotions in two ways: (10) converting his intentions/convictions into idées fixes or absolute truths, the opposite extreme from ambiguity, and (11) wielding uncertainty as a weapon. That uncertainty is total, as shown by the fact that (12) everyone -- allies, non-combatants, even himself -- is a potential victim. A concluding note: it is the syndrome, the running together of components, which counts -- not specific components taken in isolation.
By not admitting what he cannot admit, the terrorist guards his secret, even from himself.
By not admitting what he is, the terrorist shows the gravity that admission holds for him. To my knowledge, no terrorist or other middle class rebel has ever said what he is.
What he is, is the secret he keeps: he is a middle class rebel. (Ibid., p. 142.)
Julian Assange has not gone through certain rites of passage, e.g., prison, training camp, and/or committed a violent act such as murder; he does not include everybody as a potential victim of his violence, etc.
Of course, the entire case depends on how you define "terrorist." If you accept the above definition, then "Assange-is-a-terrorist" -- well, you simply can't get there from here.
Bob W., you ask what I would say to Julian to "get him to change?"
I wouldn't say anything. I'd hand him a book, William Golding's The Spire.
Same goes for Omar Hammani, the terrorist next door (see this blog, post of Nov. 18, 2010). In Omar's case, the book would be Arthur Rimbaud's A Season in Hell.
Why those books to those people?
The technician who installed my first computer assiduously explained that a computer couldn't do anything without an operating system. No inputs, no outputs; it sits there, dead to the world. If that's true, I asked, then how do you get the computer to accept the operating system?
The technician turned a whiter shade of pale. He went back to the office, phoned me the next day. It turns out a computer without an operating system cannot do anything except one thing: accept an operating system.
All you have to do is insert it.