Why I think so many of my liberal friends are wrong in their hatred of a whistleblower
There is a stark and dangerous Liberal Hypocrisy on the issue of Bradley Manning (or Chelsea Manning depending on how you wish to say it) which I feel compelled to call out here. I feel that so many liberals and progressives have turned on Manning in a way I feel is disingenuous. Fellow progressives, if you have a soft stomach for self criticism, do not read any further.
Before I begin, everyone must understand that I am a progressive. I am to the left, often more to the left than most liberals. In some cases I could be called a socialist, though I personally don’t choose that label. I am not a hidden conservative or libertarian. These are my beliefs. Having said all of this, I have to critique some of my fellow liberal minded friends who I care deeply about. In many ways, that is why I’m going to say what I am about to say.
I think the issue of Bradley Manning should be a no-brainer for most liberals. Manning broke his oaths to his uniform, yes. Manning deserved a punishment, obviously he deserved some sentence. However, thirty-five years in prison, three of which was already spent for leaking evidence of a war crime committed by our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan seems to be a bit harsh. I am saddened that many of my liberal friends feel as nasty toward Manning as they do.
For starters, certain myths about manning must be dispelled. A strong myth is that Manning did not go to his superior officers in the chain of command before he leaked the Apache helicopter video and thousands of documents, most of which were war logs, of Iraq and Afghanistan combat. This is a lie. Manning did approach his superiors before he decided to leak the info to WikiLeaks. His commanders essentially laughed at him and basically told him the information wasn’t going anywhere and to hush up about it.
Manning did what he had to, as any person with the right heart and mind should do, no matter their position, age, gender or anything else. He was a whistle blower, through and through. To assume Manning did what he did for profit, fame, ego or any other propagandist nonsense I hear is just that; nonsense.
He did what few people of his rank and age had the courage to do. That speaks more to his character than against it, every other person would have shut their mouth and carried out their orders. How does conquering fear to reveal the truth of war crimes speak badly to Manning’s character?
Secondly, I feel as if Manning is being unjustly hammered in a legal process which has allowed so many other criminals go free. This video helps give a better and more detailed insight into some bad people who did far worse than Manning, and are given lesser sentences.
There are also some other very unscrupulous characters in the military which were given lesser sentences or no sentences at all. Lawrence Hutchins III, a Sergeant in serving in Iraq in 2006. He took part in the execution of a civilian Iraqi man in Hamdania. Sergeant Frank Wuterich served in Haditha, he led Marines into civilians homes and admitted to killing 24 civilian men, women, and children.
Lawrence Hutchins III was sentenced to 11 years for his execution of a civilian. His sentence was recently dropped by a military judge panel. The legal reason being “His rights were violated” when he was held in solitary of seven days without access to a lawyer. Frank Wuterich was charged with involuntary manslaughter. He was merely given a pay cut. He served no jail time.
You shouldn’t be surprised to know that the helicopter crew in the video Manning helped leak also wasn’t charged and has served no sentence for their massacre of eleven civilians, including two Reuters newsmen. First responders were also shot at when they arrived to collected the dead and help the wounded. That by every definition is a war crime, there is no sugarcoating it.
How are all of these other men getting more breaks than Manning, who murdered no one in any way. When real war criminals are brought up on charges, they are either pardoned or given fairly lighter sentences.
It was somewhat delightful for me to hear that former Sergeant Robert Bales was given life without chance for parole for his role in the killing of sixteen Afghan civilians. Though how long do you think it will be before his sentence is reduced and he’s let go? Based on past and recent precedents this wouldn’t be far off.
Manning did not kill two journalists, a dozen unarmed civilians and first responders from a roaming helicopter. So why is Manning Public Enemy Number One? Why is he to be so hatefully forsaken, especially by my fellow liberals and progressives? I have an opinion, though many will find it distasteful perhaps.
My feeling is that many liberals and democrats are being so hateful of Manning mainly because he is being forsaken by a democratic president. Because Barack Obama, the “liberal” democrat, has decided to side with the Pentagon and Security State (as most presidents tend to do). My opinion is that if we had a president McCain or Romney right now and Manning released the info he did, liberals and progressives would probably be praising him to no end.
It’s an attitude much like the way republicans and conservatives acted toward George W. Bush. Republicans and conservatives (save for Ron Paul) would never openly challenge or criticize the Bush Administration for anything. Liberals and democrats rallied against the invasive and aggressive National Security policies of the Bush Administration, never ceasing in their criticism. Barack Obama himself even criticized their policies early in 2007, during his first campaign.
Now the script has flipped, and the liberals who were united against the invasive Security State policies have now sided in favor of it. Why? Because “our” president, Barack Obama, says its okay. This is exactly what conservatives did with Bush, and we on the left should be better than that.
Understand, that much of what I listed were cold hard facts that cannot be sugarcoated or brushed away. Bradley (Chelsea) Manning revealed major crimes committed by our troops against civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan. Manning also helped leak information which led to uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East known as the Arab Spring. Manning betrayed his oaths to his government, he did not betray his country.
It saddened me to see Manning so beaten down from imprisonment and court, that in the end he gave an apology which mimicked the Stalinist show trials of the 1930’s. Manning basically had to beg for forgiveness for essentially doing nothing morally wrong. Legally I understand. But you cannot argue that what Manning did was morally wrong.
Manning for all accounts is a hero for what he did. He is the one given 35 years for releasing evidence of crimes, while the majority of criminals get off with little to no time. Worst of all, so many of my liberal friends are not only okay, but in many cases champion this insane treatment of Manning. I am tired of the nonsense. Manning is being treated worse than war criminals, and this should disturb progressives. Sadly it doesn’t seem to.
I spoke of a danger this creates. The danger is in precedent. If these kinds of trials and actions happen under Obama, imagine what a right-wing Republican president would do with that power. Bush already gave you a taste, Obama has tolerated it, and now it can be further expanded upon.
Liberals and progressive friends, we should not be so divided on this issue as we apparently are. Make no mistake, the treatment of Bradley (Chelsea) Manning was meant to serve as a warning. With that kind of “justice” and treatment, it’s no wonder Edward Snowden won’t turn himself in…..
Keep in mind some of what I said was my own opinion and it is more than fair to disagree with me and criticize my point of view. I am more than willing to defend my position. I don’t have to hide or be ashamed of anything, especially how I feel. I understand that everyone holds different perspectives and I am not naive to this fact. I embrace it, because as a progressive that is what I believe in.