This isn’t an easy blog post to write. Both Oliver Stone and Michael Moore are serious-minded critics of everything that could resemble American imperialism and they should be lauded for their engagement. Both men have made documentaries that have tried to teach Americans to question their leaders. In the clip above, Stone is discussing his 2009 documentary South of the Border with a CBS News reporter.
What’s always been problematic about Stone in particular is his inability to view South American and Latin American leaders from the perspective of their people. In the interview, he makes it clear to us that he admires these leaders’ intention to keep their countries independent after years of downright destructive meddling on behalf of former U.S. administrations and intelligence agencies. Chile and Nicaragua stand out as particularly embarrassing examples of U.S. intervention. The problem is that independence and strong leaders don’t necessarily lead to strong democracies; in the case of Cuba, Venezuela and Ecuador for instance, opposing the government could lead to prison sentences.
Whenever Michael Moore or Oliver Stone (and Sean Penn, for that matter) embrace the strongmen who are in charge of these countries, they lend credence to the notion that the American left is willing to turn a blind eye to democratic principles. The latest example of their refusal to think logically came in the shape of a New York Times op-ed where they lauded WikiLeaks and applauded Ecuador’s decision to grant Julian Assange political asylum as he’s hiding in their embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden. Assange is facing allegations of sexual assault; now, Moore and Stone, who don’t believe in the charges, are urging Swedish and British citizens to stand up for “free speech”.
Here’s a news flash for these directors, whose judgment I’m seriously beginning to question. As a Swedish citizen, I can guarantee them that there will be no uprising on behalf of Assange. In this country, and probably in many other places, he’s being viewed as a clown who’s desperately and cowardly hiding from justice. U.S. authorities have not made a formal request for extradition, nor are they likely to since the WikiLeaks scandal seems to be focused in the U.S. primarily on Bradley Manning, the imprisoned soldier who is suspected of having passed classified material to WikiLeaks. Besides, Sweden does not extradite people who can expect death sentences; we have made mistakes in the past (handing over Egyptian terror suspects to the CIA, who were subsequently tortured in Egypt), but that’s not likely to happen in such a high-profiled case.
You’re simply being played by Assange. And naming Ecuador as an example of “acting in accordance of [...] human rights” is simply not true. Freedom House’s latest report on the country makes it clear how ridiculous it is to talk about liberties there. As Stone himself would put it, it’s all about independence. Ecuador wants to show the U.S. that it’s an independent nation. Welcoming a man who stands up to American secrecy is natural for them. So what if he’s accused of assaulting women in some far off country far, far up north?