Chelsea Manning: The US’s Warning to the Queer Community

Chelsea  Manning’s trial rages on and I didn’t think I could find something more disgusting than the fact that she was on trial in the first place. When I wrote Collateral Murder and Bradley Manning  a few months ago I thought I had seen it all and could firmly claim that the US cared more about the vague term “national security” than it ever would for its people.

The trial has gotten worse however. It is a small blessing that the government is not seeking the death penalty as Manning’s punishment, but the sentence now pending is 90 years in prison for six Espionage Act Convictions. Manning put out a confession recently saying:

I am sorry my actions hurt people. I’m sorry I hurt the United States.

Even if this confession is in the hopes of receiving a lesser sentence who did Chelsea Manning hurt? The pride of the US military? Boo hoo. How did Chelsea Manning hurt the US? By informing its citizens of war crimes? By her apology, she implies that she is guilty of treason. She has hurt the US. He has hurt people. This confession is sickening and I wonder what was done to her to make a person of her moral caliber turn around and take everything back. Yes, she could have gone through a more “legal” means of informing the American people of these war crimes, but she knew what was morally correct. I am terrified to think of what was done to her for him to come out with such a confession of guilt.

But even the confession itself is not the worst piece of the trial. Instead of focusing on evidence related to WikiLeaks, Dr. Michael Worsley has testified that Manning is diagnosed with Gender Identity Dysphoria. The military definition is someone who feels he or she is born into the wrong body (I do not know if this is the same as transgender although a lot of sources tend to conflate the two). Supposedly due to the gender roles associated with masculine army men, Manning felt isolated and had no resources to seek guidance. Her gender identity is spoken about not only as a disease. And even worse, it is used as evidence against Manning!

It is as if her gender identity is the cause of her supposed treason. Why else would such unrelated material about Manning’s personal life be brought into a trial concerning actions  of “aiding the enemy”?

This tactic of broadcasting her queer identity terrifies me. There is a message here to the queer community of America, spoken through Manning’s trial. We are being told with a subtle threat to keep our heads down. We are being reminded that we are the minority and should be on our toes. By linking Manning’s queer identity to her actions, standing up against the government, we are being told that any of us could also be traitors to the state. Queer = traitor.

If America wants to claim we are only a few steps away from being Chelsea Manning, then I have to say one thing:

We are Chelsea Manning.

 

 

 

Boston Bombing and American Rights

Recently I’ve been expanding my views beyond feminism. For all the academic talk about intersecting identities, I know that I am both a feminist and an American citizen who cares about my rights in both categories. I cannot ignore areas where either piece of my life is ignored. I cannot ignore the bombings at the Boston Marathon.

While it is frightening enough that this happened earlier this week, I am more concerned about the government’s reaction. According to truthdig.com–an independent news site–Obama has ordered heightened security across the nation. It is not clear what measures will be taken to ensure our safety, but I do not believe our safety is the government’s top concern. No matter the cause of the attack, the mainstream media is using the bombing as propaganda to divide America.

While Obama has not directly called the attack “an act of terror” mainstream news has latched onto the word “terrorism.” Terrorism is technically a word designated to refer to violence done for political purposes, the word has been hijacked. It is now synonymous with foreign threats and 9/11. And because this attack is considered a threat to national security (until it is known whether it is foreign or domestic) the US government wants to err on the side of safety and place catching the perpetrators as their top priority. Except, I have a hard time believing this.

The day after the attack was supposed to be a National Call Day to get the American public’s opinion on gun control. Because of the bombing, that has been put on hold. Why is a talk meant to deal with violence suspended due to violence? Just because an act of terror was committed does not mean the previous acts of violence are suddenly ancient history.

While I would want to believe our government is trying to protect us by placing our security first, security encompasses more than these bombings. If the highest concern of the US government was to keep us safe, the talks on gun control would be expanded to include all violence and terror, not postponed.