France's Le Monde Names Assange Man of the Year

More than a few eyebrows were raised recently when Time Magazine chose to honor Mark Zuckerberg as their 2010 person of the year. While many found more worthy choices on their full list – from the Tea Party to the Chilean miners – one common theme emerged around many kitchen tables: at least they didn’t go with Julian Assange. (Though interestingly enough, their own online survey of readers found the Wikileaks honcho at number one by a wide margin.)

Well, that decision clearly didn’t sit well with some individuals across the pond and France’s Le Monde Magazine has decided to set things to rights by bestowing that title on Assange. (Note: link goes to the original article in French.)

For our English speaking readers, a translation is helpfully provided by WorldMeets.US.

Tall, thin and elegant, Julian Assange, founder and chief of WikiLeaks, first of all strikes his interlocutors as a talented speaker with a deep and sober voice, who knows how to conduct himself with rigor, humor, emotion – but also sarcasm. Watching him work, one discovers a gifted, ultra-efficient professional: once he begins a project, he dedicates himself to it completely, night and day, to the point of exhaustion.

When asked what exactly he does, Assange’s response is long, but precise: “I’m an activist, journalist, a software programmer and expert in cryptography, specializing in systems designed to protect the defenders of human rights.” WikiLeaks, a site dedicated to disclosing confidential documents, is the fruit of his unique mélange of skills, acquired over the course of an uncommon life.

I would include more, but smoke was already starting to curl out of my keyboard just pasting in that much.

While this should not be taken as any sort of official stance of the government of France, nor even necessarily of the French public at large, I think it still points to what remains as a major mental disconnect between two societies. Americans have traditionally been encouraged to be skeptical of their government, (particularly in matters of fiscal probity) asking questions and demanding transparency except where matters of national security are concerned.

But the citizens of some of our allies – as well as their sympathizers here at home – still clearly see the motives of the United States as a bit more sinister. The end zone dancing surrounding some revelations from Wikileaks appears to be far more of a thumb in the eye of Washington than a desire for open communications on matters which should be free to public viewing.

There are doubtless plenty of things being revealed which the average citizen should be entitled to know. But other matters may cross the line into endangering the lives of soldiers and citizens lawfully pursuing the nation’s business. Still others will fall into that gray area in between. Should communications be made public which may not be directly related to national security but will prove embarrassing to officials and diplomats, potentially harming our relationships with allied nations?

That’s for the American public to decided. But the proper method to obtain that information should be through our elected representatives and the courts, not self-appointed hit men with some computer hacking skills. Le Monde is certainly making a statement with this selection, but it may not be the one they had in mind.

Now you can yell at Jazz for being a stupid, wrong-headed RINO even faster than by just leaving a comment. Follow him on Twitter! @JazzShaw