William Butler Yeats was an Irish poet of note. In his lifetime he wrote nearly 400 poems. I studied some of them at university but two of them, ‘The Second Coming’,  and ‘Sailing to Byzantium’,  stood out clearly because of their power and universal appeal. The poems were the lenses that the poet used to capture the senselessness and meaninglessness that preceded World War 1. In fact, in 1958 when Chinua Achebe wanted to capture a similar scenario reminiscent of our cultural and institutional metamorphosis, he took his cue from line three of Yeats ‘The Second Coming’. I wish to crave your indulgence to reproduce only the first stanza of that poem because it would be the nexus to my second paragraph, and it would allow me focus on my theme for today. The lines are:
Turning and turning in the widening gyre/ The Falcon cannot hear the Falconer/ Things Fall Apart; the centre cannot hold/ The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere/ The ceremony of innocence is doomed/ The best lack all conviction, while the worst/ Are full of passionate intensity.
Our world appears to be in a widening gyre. When I look about me, what I see, what I hear, and what I feel may not be too different from the ennui expressed in this post World War 1 rendition. And if I should randomly pick from any of these events as they occur, the revolutions in Tunisia, in Egypt and now in Jordan would not top my list of a case of a falconer that cannot hear the falcon or the falcon the falconer. Those events are just symptomatic of the turns and twists and gyrations in the epilepsy of governments worldwide. How could a man have stayed in power for 30 years only to reveal that he was just there for himself, his family and for the country that supported him all through? It only goes to show that Yeats was another Nostradamus after all when he said in his poem that what seems best most times is what truly lacks conviction. How else do we explain this, other than the realization that Uncle Tom himself has been the big supporter of the fraud of the Mu Barak regime? We will not rush to criticize the US for maintaining this dour regime, particularly when we realize that maintaining Hosni Mubarak was the maintenance of the balance of power in the Middle East, even though there was an opportunity cost to the people of Egypt.
What then tops my list of evidences that the ceremony of innocence is doomed and we are being filled only with passionate intensity? It is sex. Yes sex, plain old sex and the role it is playing in the unfolding denouement of a new world order. Sex was used against a forward-looking President as Bill Clinton, opponents of the Italian President, Servio Berlusconi have dragged him to court for allegedly sleeping with a teenager, the Israelis too sacked their president recently on sex related issues, and the list goes on and on. But by far the most preposterous of the charges recently are those of rape slapped on Julian Assange, the Wiki leaks man. The story is that when Julian Assange was in Sweden, he raped two women and as such he should be punished by extradition to the US where he is expected to get the death penalty for leaking clandestine gist [aka ‘classified’ info in government circles].
There are several aspects of the rape story against Assange I find incredible and just plain silly. First, Assange is not so physically well endowed as to have subdued two lusty women and whammed them, just like that. How then did he do it? How did he get them to his room [if we assume he whammed them in his room]? Did he then drug them and take them in turns or that he was whamming them one after the other in their unconscious state? So, how did everyone know about his skirmish with those prostitutes? Was it the prostitutes that went after and reported him for ‘raping’ them, or was this just a dirty little scheme to embarrass Assange? How does anyone rape a prostitute?
It is a clumsy but intriguing a story, so I decided to try to get to the bottom of it. I consulted with some lawyers who assured me indeed that an Assange, with little or no brute force, could rape two, three, four women [at this point I burst out laughing]. But how could he do it so successfully? Their responses were not straightforward and they left me more convinced than ever that the law indeed is a donkey. So what did I do next? I became a wikileakean and consulted the internet. What I found out was interesting. In Sweden, where the offence was said to have been committed, prostitutes are two a penny. But according to a law enacted in 1999 known as the Swedish Model, it is lawful for a woman to sell her sex but illegal for any man to buy that same sex that she willingly gives away, consent or no consent. Their law says that prostitution is an expression of men’s oppression and abuse of women. So, it seems that it is this flimsy excuse that the authorities are holding against Assange.
But not so really. What I do see is that there are usually underlying concerns [even though most are legitimate and sometimes selfish] concerning government. What is right is wrong and what is wrong is right only as it suits the interests of that government. Government is a place for double-speak. Government is a place for morality only when that morality suits the interest of the government. But what people all over the world are asking for, from their governments is a little transparency, a little trust and a little confidence from them. If the men in Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan and Yemen were men who had any respect for their peoples, the revolutions talking place there now will not have begun. If they do that, they won’t be seeking to give a dog a bad name to hang it. After all, isn’t that what the Assange saga is all about?