May I just say, 'So frikkin' what?'
Assange's one-time collaborator The New York Times publishes its ebook Open Secrets: WikiLeaks, War and American Diplomacy tomorrow. The NYT executive editor, Bill Keller, is reported to have said:
'He was alert but dishevelled, like a bag lady walking in off the street, wearing a dingy, light-coloured sport coat and cargo pants, dirty white shirt, beat-up sneakers and filthy white socks that collapsed around his ankles. He smelled as if he hadn't bathed for days.'
The Guardian's book, WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange's War on Secrecy, is also published tomorrow.
Labelled a 'freak' by fairweather friends such as Daniel Domscheit-Berg, a Wikileaks co-founder who has written Inside WikiLeaks: My Time at the World's Most Dangerous Website, Assange is being used as an example pour encourager les autres for the rest of us to conform. Heaven forfend that anyone should be thought 'weird'.
Assange is a man who has incurred the wrath of the greatest state power on earth in order to liberate certain facts that are now being buried under a mountain of irrelevance. He's had death threats and faces the possibility of being chucked in gaol and the key thrown away, as they are doing to Bradley Manning. And critics are focusing on his grooming?
Genius Albert Einstein had a wardrobe of mostly identical clothes so he wouldn't have to think about what to wear, and was also said to have smelt like a polecat. But I don't see evidence that his contemporaries wrote off his contribution to humankind on the basis of his grooming.
After all, without Albert, we'd never have seen the atom split or produced nuclear weaponry ... (Er, let me think about this one.)
There may well be valid criticism of Assange, but diminishing the importance of the leaks themselves by providing a tawdry diversion does not serve anyone but the very forces Wikileaks and Open Leaks are supposed to be challenging.