“About suffering they were never wrong,” wrote W. H. Auden in the poem “Musée Des Beaux Arts.”
These lines occurred to me last week when all eyes were focused on the brutal British seizure of Julian Assange from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.
No one should have been surprised by this despicable spectacle carried out in the noonday light for all to see, for the British government has not served as America’s jailer for the past seven years for no reason. It doesn’t take x-ray eyes to see that the British and the Moreno government in Ecuador are twin poodles on the American leash. After a phony display of judicial fairness, the British, as required by their American bosses, will dispatch Assange to the United States so he can be further punished for the crime of doing journalism and exposing war crimes.
Assange has suffered mightily for American sins. The Anglo-American torturers know how to squeeze their victims to make old men out of the young. Abu Ghraib was no aberration. The overt is often covert; just a thin skin separates the sadists’ varied methods, but their message is obvious. No one who saw Assange dragged to prison could fail to see what the war-mongers, who hate freedom of the press when it exposes their criminal activities, can do to a man. Nor, however, could one fail to see the spirit of defiance that animates Assange, a man of courageous conscience cowards can’t begin to comprehend.
Bought and sold, compromised and corrupted to their depths, the American, British, and Ecuadorian governments and their media sycophants have no shame or allegiance to law or God, and have never learned that you can imprison, torture, and even kill a person of conscience, but that doing so is a risky business. For even the corpses of those who say “No” keep whispering “No” forevermore.
While the media spotlight was on central London, Auden’s lines kept running through my mind:
About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters, how well they understood
Its human position: how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just
Walking dully along
His words transported me from London to a lonely jail cell in Virginia where Chelsea Manning sat brooding.