Chelsea, otherwise known as Bradley Manning, has petitioned the US Army to give him transgender procedures that will enable him to spend his 35 years pretending to be a woman in a woman's prison. Apart from the surgeries and hormone therapy involved, it sounds like a great idea.
I mean, imagine the film version starring someone like Jack Black or a young Bill Murray. Sent to prison for some crazy heist gone bad, Jack worries about the sexual violence he might face in prison. "See, he explains to his pals, we'll pretend to be transgender and claim our right to go to a women's prison. It'll be like the Playboy Club on bondage night!"
If only Chelsea were that sane.
Peaceniks and anarchists and advocates of treason love Chelsea and defend his actions as noble and public-spirited. Like Major Hassan--another sane and intelligent critic of US policy--Chelsea just switched sides and, while on active duty in the military, filched information and released it to an anti-American internet site.
I understand why the Army was unwilling to brand Manning as a traitor--which is exactly what he is--because of sensitivities about the press and its imagined freedoms, but 35 years is a slap on the wrist for someone who intended to damage his country.
Whether he succeeded or not, I have no way of knowing, but it is a bit like the case of the Salem witches: In joining an anti-Christian cult that worshipped the Enemy of the human race, the witches intended to harm their neighbors, at the very least by supplying love charms and poison. They got the punishment they deserved. Small wonder that the pro-Communist Arthur Miller, in defending American Commies, cast his anti-McCarthyist fable in terms of the Salem witch trials. Traitors love treason.
A number of Manning's defenders have been quick to respond that, after all, he is on "our side" in spilling the beans on US imperialism. That is the whole problem with taking sides--you find yourself allied with scum. The late Eugene Genovese tried to persuade me to ally myself with the Podhoretzes and, worse, Dinesh D' Souza. He simply could not escape that old popular front mentality that defines itself by its enemies. No thanks. Better not to fight than to fight with third-rate unreliable allies who will switch sides the minute someone offers to pay them more.
In every aspect of his life, Manning simply does not know who he is or to what he belongs. He began with treason against his human nature, and it was a small step to betray his country--and for whom or what? Fortunately, he tells us why he did what he did.
In his long, ignorant, and childish letter to President Obama, the then Bradley Manning cast his grievances against America in historical terms, listing the terrible crimes committed by Americans against various minorities. It is the familiar Comintern version of American history: The Trail of Tears, Dred Scott, etc etc., concluding--almost inevitably--with Howard Zinn's prose, so purple it could only come from a rotting liver: “There is not a flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.”
To cap his exercise in self-flagellation, Manning cites Lincoln's immortalized hogwash in the Gettysburg Address. The mind of Chelsea Manning is the fruit of American education. (Yes, bad pun intended). He and the American Taliban are the products of government education.
Yes, American white males in pursuit of their own interest have done things that any Christian should be ashamed of. But show me a tribe of non-violent and harmless males, and I shall tell you what they are: feeble-minded losers. We must always do our best to avoid criminal violence and to atone for mistakes, but Americans, compared with any of their alleged victims, not only have nothing to apologize for, they have bragging rights against Africans, Indians, Asians, and any other victimized minority you choose to mention.
Manning, like Major Hassan, was not driven into treason: These two embraced it. They could have resigned from the military and gone public with their complaints. Instead, the one chose to reveal classified information that betrayed his comrades, while the other took the more direct route of shooting them. Of the two, I have far more respect for the Muslim who faithfully obeyed the dictates of his religion.
Shed no tears for Chelsea Manning. He-she-or-it is getting a great deal less than he-she-it deserves.
Thomas Fleming is the former editor of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He is the author of The Politics of Human Nature, Montenegro: The Divided Land, and The Morality of Everyday Life, named Editors' Choice in philosophy by Booklist in 2005. He is the coauthor of The Conservative Movement and the editor of Immigration and the American Identity. He holds a Ph.D. in classics from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Before joining the Rockford Institute, he taught classics at the University of Miami of Ohio, served as an advisor to the U.S. Department of Education, and was headmaster at the Archibald Rutledge Academy. He has been published in, among others, The Spectator (London), Independent on Sunday (London), Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Chicago Sun-Times, National Review, Classical Journal, Telos, and Modern Age. He and his wife, Gail, have four children and four grandchildren.