The Truth Shall Set You Up
I read an interesting piece today about Bradley Manning and the “crazy moral courage” that motivated him to risk his freedom to reveal to Americans what he thought they should know about the unreported accidental and deliberate violence perpetrated by their military machine on people living here, there, and everywhere.
Of course, it’s not like Americans don’t already know. Cripes, many of them have participated in it, witnessed it, been victimized by it. And even if they haven’t, they’ve seen the movie. All Bradley Manning really did was add to the pile of proof that telling young men they’re heroes, then arming them with guns, training them to kill other human beings, and sending them over to the other side of the world to do it can lead to some pretty fucked up shit.
The author of the piece, himself once a British soldier in Afghanistan who witnessed his own tour of unreported accidental and deliberate violence against unarmed civilians, talks about the state historically pathologizing the whistle-blower, and how it did so easily with Bradley Manning – born with symptoms of fetal alcohol syndrome, neglected for much of his life, struggling with gender identity.
He believes there’s a lot of truth to the portrayal of the whistle-blower as crazy, his argument being that sane people, people like him, people like most of us, people like me certainly, don’t do it and for good reason. We do the math and the math equals the truth is not worth the loss of our career, our freedom, our life.
We know that you can’t beat city hall. (Actually, I know it, I just have real trouble believing it, but that’s my problem and I’m working on it. The trial of Bradley Manning doesn’t affect my illusions any as I had no doubt of what the verdict would be.)
I saw a sticker on the back of, yes, an SUV, a few weeks ago that read “My daddy is fighting for your freedom”.
I really wanted to knock on the window and ask mommy if daddy is a civil rights lawyer. Or a member of the Council of Canadians seeking to hold the Conservative Party of Canada accountable for electoral fraud. Or even an Opposition MP trying to prevent Stephen Harper from proroguing Parliament yet again.
But speaking of freedom fighters, one of our troops here in the Ottawa area is about to stand trial for murdering his wife. Post traumatic stress disorder, is my guess at the defence. But with governing politicians glorifying war and sanctifying all things military the way they do perhaps he can just plead confusion.
Do we support the troops or don’t we?
By the way, were the majority of Canadian deaths in Afghanistan the result of landmines, accidents (including accidental shootings and friendly fire), and suicides? I’m just asking because it occurs to me that it may be the case, that the Taliban was the least of our death and injury tally.
Meanwhile, I suppose we have no way of knowing how many rapes and/or murders of Afghanis were perpetrated by the troops we must unquestionably support for reasons that mustn’t be explained.
I probably shouldn’t speculate or Stephen Harper will prorogue the next session of Parliament after this one, too.
There’s a movie called The Nasty Girl about a girl who finds out in the course of doing a school project that her beloved town had, in the not too distant past, been surrounded by concentration camps. Town officials had all been Nazi party supporters, confiscated property and forced out Jews.
She suffers repercussions by exposing the truth, of course, but mostly she’s driven mad by it. When the town finally stops denying it, she’s gone through the looking glass.
We all know what happens when an individual takes on a bureaucracy. My friend tells a story about a man she knows who’s been fighting the Department of Justice for years. He’s in the right, too, and the facts are awful, but she avoids making eye contact now. In for a penny, in for a pound, and before long you’re crazy. The pursuit of justice is all he thinks about, talks about, acts about. She’s told him to drop it and move on but he can’t.
And so he ends up alone. And that’s just here in Canada where there’s much less at stake. In America “the truth shall set you free” means the exact opposite. The truth will most likely land you in prison because America is built on myth and no one, least of all the powers that be in a military machine that depends on absolute complicity, can risk even a hint at it until the Hollywood movie comes out.
Even after it does, America’s real life sacrifice is sacrosanct whether it is or isn’t. The rest of humanity is forever the Star Trek redshirt.
Now the talk is of Bradley Manning seeking a Presidential pardon at Thanksgiving along with the turkey. (Remember Sarah Palin at the abattoir pardoning a turkey with the turkey slaughterer in the background feeding turkeys headfirst into a grinder?)
But that’s just more crazy talk, especially with Edward Snowden still on the lam (and looking increasingly ludicrous seeking asylum in Vladimir Putin’s Russia where they kill journalists who ask the wrong questions). He’s proven the NSA a liar several times over and it doesn’t matter a whit. The other day I heard Obama’s spokesredhead refer to the NSA as “they” in the sense that “we” the government (of the United States, I mean) have no power over “them”.
“They” have a million or so employees, too, so lots of Edward Snowdens still with their noses at the grindstone, which in the case of employment at the NSA means spying on anybody and everybody, probably including each other.
Especially each other, I hope.
Meanwhile, we know already that China has hacked into all our government databases, that the NSA has been reading and listening to all our private communications, and that the United States administration and military (is there a separation between the two or are they really one and the same) lied from start to no exit strategy about the invasion of Iraq.
Most importantly, we know that telling young men they’re heroes, then arming them with guns, training them to kill other human beings, and sending them over to the other side of the world to do it can lead to some pretty fucked up shit.
So how can the President of the United States even pretend that he has the moral authority to pardon one of those young men for having the crazy moral courage to prove to Americans what they already know?