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It is a small victory for the sisterhood that it is the words of a female poet – Emma Lazarus – that grace the pedestals of the Statue of Liberty in New York’s great harbour.

What a shame that those words have come to represent an ideal that, in practice, America may never reach. Because the fact is, however much we idealise  equality among all people, regardless of their backgrounds, and however much we believe that we must protect those at the very bottom of society, we are still shamefully unequal. And for all the rhetoric of “difficult times” and “making do” used by politicians, our inequality is unjustifiable, indefensible, immoral.

Not long ago, Jon Ronson from GQ Magazine drove across America to interview some of the richest and poorest people in the country. In this striking story, the comfortable, protected life of a Forbes billionaire is put in contrast with a migrant from Haiti who lives in a slum and washes dishes for a meager wage. Inequality in America is, actually, still as bad as, if not worse than, it was in 1774. And that’s got to be bad, considering slavery was still in operation back then.

Today, we still live in a world where inequality prevails, where the rich hold power, and where the poorest masses are silent in the face of injustice.

In a world where those who dare to show us the truth – like Assange or Manning – are held captive by authorities that have long exceeded the powers granted them by constitutional law.

In a world where the tired, the poor, the huddled masses find no ‘world-wide welcome’ in the countries that hold equality ideal.

In a world where they find themselves, instead, destitute, and this destitution is more appalling in America and in Western cradles of democracy than it is in countries poorer, because it is here in the West that so many others bask in needless wealth, and in the greed that justifies holding on to it.

And here in London, in Stratford where I live and work, at what was the heart of the pomp and the glory of the 2012 Olympics, the homeless men and women still sit silent on the benches in the mall, wrapped tight in tattered clothes, smelling of garbage, a few bags of belongings tucked under their legs. In a country where £11 billion was spent on the games, how can it be fair that these unwanted castaways are no closer to decency and dignity than they were before?

If the West is really a ‘Mother of Exiles’, why did it not build shelters, open kitchens, create jobs and education programmes for its homeless?

And in its blind celebration of needless expenditure why, why can it not see the homeless, the tempest-tost on whom it treads?

 

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame.
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Emma Lazarus (1849-1887)

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David Cameron has once again shown the world the extent of his policy of double standards by agreeing that Syrian head of state Assad should be given safe passage out of Syria should he ask for it.

Safe passage for Assad, who has openly failed to put an end to state violence against civilians across the country for almost 2 years, but not for Assange, who has been unlawfully detained without charge or trial also for almost 2 years.

Why so selective about whom you protect, Cameron?

Why is it that you would go to such extreme lengths to negotiate escape for a president accused of heinous war crimes against his own people, but not for an ordinary man who showed the world that many of its governments are corrupt with double standards like yours?

Assange has always maintained he will face allegations of sex offences in Sweden provided he is protected from persecution by the US – persecution which has nothing to do with sex offences but with the way WikiLeaks has revealed, and continues to reveal, the increasingly unethical and inhumane activities conducted by US governments past and present. If you are so concerned about justice, Cameron, why don’t you lobby Sweden for protection for Assange?

Why do you instead agree to safe passage for Assad? Do you think that is fair, even if Assad is sent to The Hague? Is it fair that the man responsible for the murder of so many of his own citizens, in what is one of the longest-running Arab Spring revolutions yet seen, should be allowed safely out of his country to trial, while the man partially responsible for inspiring the Arab Spring in the first place, through the revelations of WikiLeaks, is awaited day and night to just dare to step out of the Ecuadorian Embassy so that he can be arrested and extradited to Sweden without guarantee of protection from unlawful persecution from the US?

Is it fair?

If you think it is fair, Cameron, it is clear that you pursue a politics that is rife with the corruption of double standards. If you think it is fair, it is clear that you value the silencing of threats to your own government but not the growing revolution of open governance. It is clear that you value all that suits you, and nothing that does not.

One of the most honourable qualities of a political leader is the ability to pursue liberty impartially. Too often, though, political leaders choose liberty for themselves, for their secrets and their lies, for their allies and their partners in crime, for their donors and their friends, but not for those who try to reveal this unjust liberty to the rest of the people. If you were a leader who pursued liberty impartially, Cameron, you would recognise that Assange deserves liberty from persecution and surveillance and that Assad does not.

Friend of WikiLeaks

November 2018
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The Final Countdown

Submission of PhD ThesisMay 1st, 2013
The big day is here. Joy to the world!
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