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.

 

 

 

“Collateral Murder” and Bradley Manning

When WikiLeaks was all over the news three years ago, I was still in high school and living a delirious life where politics were for grown ups and WikiLeaks was a strange branch-off of Wikipedia. What did I know? What do I know? Until last night I was still blissfully unaware that there are heroes like Bradley Manning who put morality ahead of the law and decide that the American people can be trusted to know when their government commits war crimes.

Bradley Manning is a private in the US army who sent videos of the July 12, 2007 Baghdad Airstrike to WikiLeaks and is being charged with aiding the enemy. I was lucky enough to be directed to an article by Chris Hedges “We Are Bradley Manning”.

Last night I knew nothing about Bradley Manning and less about the infringement of our rights through WikiLeaks. Today, I feel that as a US citizen I am obliged to share this information. The video-“Collateral Murder- is below.

I cannot claim to be an expert on the US military and even as I write this, I feel that I’m not qualified to speak on the subject. But because I’m not an authority is exactly why I need to speak out. I’m coming from the same place as many of you who are only just now receiving this information. There’s time for us to become more fluent with the proceedings of Manning’s trial and the working of the military, but there is not time to debate with ourselves whether our own lack of knowledge will prevent us from sharing the truth.

Those soldiers in that airstrike wanted an excuse to kill those people. They wanted to indulge their own sense of violence under the guise of “national security” and they got what they wanted. They murdered innocent people-real people, with lives just like ours! This is what disturbed me the most: this isn’t fiction and these are real lives we’re dealing with. There was racism in this attack, racism that is learned in America and given wings in the army.

This is immoral and we know it. There is no justification.

I’ve never felt so strongly about something in my life. I’ve never felt so absolutely powerless. This is why I’m sharing this information. If we can get a discussion going and get other voices speaking out, we won’t be powerless in the face of a government seeking to repress what we can know.

Please, pass the article and the video along to your friends and family. Go to bradleymanning.org for more information and ways to get involved further.