Julian Assange: it’s hard being a Messiah

Former New York Times editor Bill Keller may be hesitant to indulge in Freudian psychoanalysis, but his character portrait of Julian Assange succinctly illustrates the kind of neuroses that drive the Wikileaks co-founder and alleged rapist. Within a several thousand-word article in yesterday’s Guardian, in which a number of Assange’s friends, associates and nemeses are given space to say what they really think of the man, Keller tells us…

“All of our conversations, including that one, consisted mainly of Julian scolding The New York Times and me personally for not playing by his rules, for failing to recognise the supreme righteousness of his cause, and for portraying him in our pages as a complicated and controversial figure. ‘Where’s the respect?” he demanded plaintively in one call. ‘Where’s the respect?’

“Perhaps the ultimate and irreconcilable contradiction, though, was his yearning – ‘Where’s the respect?’ – to possess both the adulation of the angry disaffected and the serious regard of the established’.”

I guess that one should respect Assange for aiming so high, and achieving so much in his first 41 years. Maybe I’m just jealous.

The entire Guardian piece is worth reading, but I single out for special attention Keller, above, and also the freelance investigative journalist Heather Brooke, whose opinion of Assange is, shall we say, a little more theological…

“I later heard from two other women who said Assange pulled the same ‘poor little lost boy’ trick on them in an attempt to finagle his way into their homes. I said that was not how I conducted interviews. He complained that I didn’t have a maternal instinct, adding in drama-queen fashion: "I have two wars to stop.’

“I replied: ‘Yeah, it’s a tough life being a messiah.’ His response left me speechless: ‘Will you be my Mary Magdalene, Heather? And bathe my feet at the cross.’”

What more need be said (unless it’s to Sweden’s director of public prosecutions)?