I respect Bradley Manning. I respect Manning so much that I actually felt physically ill listening to his lawyer read his passionate, well-articulated plea to President Obama for a pardon, or commuted sentence. Veritably nauseating. To think.. a young man, with the courage of his convictions to challenge the moral authority of the greatest purveyor of violence and misery some nations and peaceful peoples have EVER known, would be forced to seek redress for a blatantly unjust prison sentence by appealing to a man unquestionably guilty of the very crimes which he’s been condemned for exposing. History will not treat this appalling scenario kindly. But.. what of the present moment? Are we who are outraged, and overwhelmed, by the hypocrisy supposed to fall in line, and grovel before our king? Are we to fecklessly sign, and retweet, online petitions demanding a “presidential pardon”..?? Is this the best we can do?
It can’t be.
Army PFC Bradley Manning revealed that our Armed Services have engaged in actions which amount to war crimes. These war crimes have been, and continue to be, committed with impunity, and, as evidenced by the verdict in Manning’s trial, with zero prospect of accountability. As revelatory as Manning’s noble whistleblowing efforts were from the standpoint of exposing criminal foreign policy practices, what’s seemingly of greater significance is what its revelation has exposed about humanity. I’ve perceived a generalized indifference to the plight of the courageous whistleblower. Sure, a handful of the formerly outspoken mass of “antiwar” celebs have publicly voiced their opposition to the persecution/prosecution of Manning. Certainly, the lack of coverage from our venerated media machine is partly responsible for the perception of disinterest. The sparse coverage that was afforded to the Manning centered not on his extraordinarily long, and “torturous,” pre-trial detention, but rather his “gender identity issues,” and unsubstantiated claims that his actions had deadly real-world consequences. Manning revealed that our human nature, our innate notions of right and wrong…morality and immorality…justice and injustice..has been utterly corrupted. It’s been eroded to a point where a decree from one we perceive to possess authority is sufficient, conclusive..lawful. On April 21st 2011 President Obama candidly shared his rationale for prosecuting Bradley Manning, stating:
Convenient! And war crimes? What of those?
Now, even those Americans who can grasp the full intellectual, and moral, scope of the implications of a wanton executive are nonetheless seeking remedy at his feet? This will not do. We can’t “vote” ourselves out of this mess. We can’t “impeach” ourselves out of this mess. We can’t beg, bow, or bootlick our way out of this mess. The ONLY thing we can do is inform ourselves of the injustice that surrounds, and evolve. There is no authority in our world who has a right to aggress against peaceful people. Your title is insignificant. The “peace prize” slung around your neck is irrelevant. You cannot gun-down journalists, and first responders, with Apache Helicopters. You cannot drone bomb weddings, funerals, and civilian first responders. You cannot poison countries with radioactive munitions. You have ZERO authority.
Bradley Manning deserves to be free. He deserves to be lauded as the heroic individual that he is. If we truly want to honor his sacrifice, we won’t settle for begging mercy from the criminals he exposed. We will push to expose them, and their illegitimate claims to authority. We must remember that NO ONE has the right to hurt other people. NO ONE. We must reclaim our humanity, so that the necessity of a “Bradley Manning” is but a dimming memory in a more peaceful world.