What Glenn Beck and WikiLeaks' Julian Assange have in common
The philosophy that appears to drive WikiLeaks' Julian Assange lies in a deep-seated distrust of governments – something that bridges any left-right divide.
Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder now in a London jail awaiting possible deportation to Sweden to face sexual assault allegations, has in short order become one of the most polarizing figures in the world.Skip to next paragraph
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He is reviled by members of the United States government yet regarded as a hero by millions who see him as striking a blow at Washington and other entrenched powers by revealing their activities to the light of day.
But while his politics certainly appear to lean left, his supporters don't fall into any sort of neat category. Instead, Mr. Assange is finding support from the conspiratorially minded, whatever their political persuasion.
Take one of Assange's most unlikely defenders, the Fox television personality Glenn Beck.
Mr. Beck, with his fulminations about socialist conspiracies at the heart of the Obama administration and warnings about a "shadow government" behind President Obama seeking to deprive Americans of their liberties, is rarely mistaken for a lefty.
Yet his deep distrust of government puts him on similiar grounds to Assange.
"I don't support this guy. I don't support what he's doing, but I'm really torn on this story," Beck told his audience this week. "He is exposing the fact that our governments all around the world have been lying to us. It's been a job we've been trying to do but been pilloried over and over for doing it. I don't want a guy to go to jail or to be silenced for something he didn't do. Again, I don't support him. But I want you to the look into the crime that he committed to warrant an international manhunt."
What is it that Assange believes and hopes to accomplish?
Based on his writings and interviews in the year since he became an international celebrity – with Russia calling for him to be awarded the Nobel prize, famous journalist-activists like John Pilger standing up for him in court, and members of the US Congress painting him as something close to public enemy No. 1 – he is less a whistle-blower than a form of anarchist, someone who sees all government secrecy as dangerous.