Interpol is Concerned With More than Assange

In case you missed it, feminist writer Naomi Wolf penned a mocking letter to Interpol, praising them for “engaging in global manhunts to arrest and prosecute men who behave like narcissistic jerks to women they are dating.” She is, of course, referring to the fact that Interpol issued a Red Notice for Julian Assange, based on a Swedish arrest warrant seeking Assange for sexual assault. Here’s Wolf’s missive in full:

Dear Interpol:

As a longtime feminist activist, I have been overjoyed to discover your new commitment to engaging in global manhunts to arrest and prosecute men who behave like narcissistic jerks to women they are dating.

I see that Julian Assange is accused of having consensual sex with two women, in one case using a condom that broke. I understand, from the alleged victims’ complaints to the media, that Assange is also accused of texting and tweeting in the taxi on the way to one of the women’s apartments while on a date, and, disgustingly enough, ‘reading stories about himself online’ in the cab.

Both alleged victims are also upset that he began dating a second woman while still being in a relationship with the first. (Of course, as a feminist, I am also pleased that the alleged victims are using feminist-inspired rhetoric and law to assuage what appears to be personal injured feelings. That’s what our brave suffragette foremothers intended!).

Thank you again, Interpol. I know you will now prioritize the global manhunt for 1.3 million guys I have heard similar complaints about personally in the US alone — there is an entire fraternity at the University of Texas you need to arrest immediately. I also have firsthand information that John Smith in Providence, Rhode Island, went to a stag party — with strippers! — that his girlfriend wanted him to skip, and that Mark Levinson in Corvallis, Oregon, did not notice that his girlfriend got a really cute new haircut — even though it was THREE INCHES SHORTER.

Terrorists. Go get ’em, Interpol!

Yours gratefully,

Naomi Wolf

A number of feminist bloggers have already written about how absolutely tone deaf this little scrib was. The specific charge against Assange is not that he’s a jerk. But that he had sex with women after they told him to stop. This is a criminal offense in many jurisdictions–and the world is better for it.* Read Jessica Valenti, Jill Filipovic, and Amanda Marcotte for more on that.

In the meantime, it is also worth pointing out that Wolf’s implied criticism of Interpol is way off base, too.

One of Interpol’s key responsibilities is coordinating a global police effort to combat transnational organized crime. And after drugs and arms smuggling, human trafficking is organized crime’s most profitable outfit.  Accordingly, Interpol is the only international law enforcement organization with a large operation dedicated exclusively to busting human trafficking rings. Their operation to that end is pretty sophisticated. It involves criminal intelligence sharing among Interpol’s member states and coordinating police action. Relatedly, some of Interpol’s highest profile cases are related to busting international purveyors of child pornography.

Seems to me this is the kind of work that a prominant feminist ought to support, not mockingly dismiss.

* This is not to say that there is nothing fishy about the timing of the Swedish legal action against Assange.   The Center for Constitutional Rights has more on the potential legal overreach in the case against Assange.