Friday, December 17, 2010

They Get Mad when the World isn’t After Them

The Wikileaks “heroes” are little more than a provisional wing of the crackpot subculture of 9-11 Truthers and Holocaust deniers. Michael C. Moynihan reports in Reason.

Last week, I wrote that the widely-linked article positing that the CIA was behind a Swedish woman’s accusation of rape against Julian Assange was authored by a Russian-born, Swedish-domiciled, multi-aliased anti-Semite and Holocaust denier currently writing under the name “Israel Shamir,” a.k.a. Adam Ermash or Jöran Jermas. The broader point had little to do with the efficacy or morality of WikiLeaks—there are plenty of debates available on the narrower issue of government transparency; this isn’t intended to be one of them—but was concerned with how ideology and confirmation bias (WikiLeaks is a good thing, therefore Assange must be defended, and the CIA has done bad stuff in the past so—cui bono?—Assange’s accuser must be a Langley asset) can lead mainstream media figures into the fever swamps of Internet conspiracy theory.
Expect the THEREfores to include negatives that can’t be proven, and allusions to mysterious characters who will later emerge, based solely on the first unassociated name or face that comes along.
Three of the journalists interviewed for the story—Cecilia Uddén, Lotta Schüllerqvist, and Peter Löfgren—claimed that Wahlström falsified quotes, leading the magazine to withdraw the story and issue an apology. Heléne Lööw, a historian of fascism and European neo-Nazism, commented that the Wahlström story contained all the “elements that one would find in a classic anti-Semitic conspiracy theory.”

A member of Ordfront’s editorial board, writing in the newspaper Dagens Nyheter, lamented that the piece was ever published, citing Wahlström’s “close working relationship with Israel Shamir,” without pointing out just how close the two were.
The famously sober and accurate Russian media is a perfect hand-in-glove fit for the fevered brows of this sort too.
According to reports in the Swedish and Russian media, the broad strokes of which have been confirmed by a WikiLeaks spokesman, Shamir serves as the group’s content aggregator in Russia, the man who “selects and distributes” the cables to Russian news organizations, according to an investigation by Swedish public radio. In the newspaper Expressen, Magnus Ljunggren, an emeritus professor of Russian literature at Gothenburg University, outlined Shamir’s close ties to WikiLeaks and his position “spreading the documents in Russia.” (The article is illustrated with a picture of Assange and Shamir in an unidentified office.)
Isn’t the heroic cry of the Wikileaks siren so much like the “calls for transparency” that 9-11 Troofers and heeb-hating Holocaust denying obsessives? It’s not so much that it has the same stench, but the same characters involved, and strikingly, popular support from the same “normal”(ish) people crawling around among the broader public that give it a margin of respectability.

Wikileaks’ entire exercise doesn’t just look like the act of a handful of loons able to function in a larger ‘straight’ world, but of a classic effort geared at using the press to construct doubt in spite of common sense.