Archive for the ‘Bradley Manning’ Category

I am NOT Bradley Manning

April 19, 2012 Leave a comment

Perhaps you have seen various photos of people on the interweb holding up a piece of paper saying, “I am Bradley Manning,” or shirts like this:

Let’s get something straight.

Only Bradley Manning is Bradley Manning.

And the reason Bradley Manning is Bradley Manning is because he did something we didn’t do, which was incredibly brave. He became a whistleblower.

Bradley Manning is a hero.

Like Tim DeChristopher is a hero.

Like Victoire Ingabire is a hero.

People who actually risk their lives, their security, their time with their loved ones, to challenge authority are heroes.

Following orders to invade and occupy a foreign country? Not heroic.

Getting limbs blown off, or your life snuffed out, while following such unlawful orders? Not heroic.

GI Joe/Jane took an oath to protect the Constitution. By following unlawful orders GI Joe/Jane violated their oath. If they really want to be a hero then they should uphold their enlistment oath and defend our Constitution from our government, or put moral obligations (i.e. not be a war criminal) above even lawful orders. Unless we are actually defending ourselves from an armed attack, or imminent threat, then our violence is not heroic. It’s aggression—even if it is somehow legally sanctioned (e.g. our recent bombing of Libya).

Just as the real test of freedom is whether or not we tolerate those we don’t like or agree with to be protected by the same laws—that is to say, we don’t arbitrarily suspend or deny the rights of others because we label them as “terrorists”—the real test of heroics is not to blindly obey and be cannon fodder for persons of authority, but to risk persecution, being ostracized, and disappearing into a black hole.

I am not Bradley Manning. I am nothing like him. The people who hold those signs, and wear those shirts . . . are nothing like him. They are cowards like me. People who don’t have the courage and bravery to do what is right. We don’t trade our comfort and security to stand up for what we believe in. I got tremendous respect for people like Manning, DeChristopher, Ingabire, and others. I often feel ashamed for not having their courage. And I have a lot of respect for those who hold those signs and wear those shirts. Just the fact that they know who Bradley Manning is and care is awesome. But, come on, let’s not fool ourselves. Rather than offering some tokken gesture claiming we are a hero, if we really wanted to be heroic, we could be ourselves and leave our own mark.