By Rebecca Solnit and David Solnit. July 14, 2011
Please join us in supporting Courage to Resist’s work—an amazingly effective grassroots organization. Let’s make a positive example of Bradley Manning and other soldiers who stand up for truth. Donate online.
There’s a small lake shaped like a wishbone you’ve probably never heard of near the Canadian border that’s considered to be the headwaters of the Mississippi River. The river flows 2,340 miles from this point to the Gulf of Mexico, gathering in more waters as it becomes the great artery that drains and waters and sometimes floods the heart of our continent. Headwaters are often like that, a little-known spring or lake in an obscure place, the places where even the biggest rivers begin.
2011 is a revolutionary year all over the world from Tunisa to Spain, from Wisconsin to the feminist revolt in France and the rising dissent in China. Much of the Arab world is in revolt. Think of revolution as a great river of popular power and hope washing away repression and injustice. One young man’s passion for truth and willingness to take a personal risk fed this river most of all. Which is to say that—if he is the WikiLeaks whistle-blower—Bradley Manning (pictured above) can be considered the headwaters of the river called Revolution. For that he has spent 400 days in prison without a day in court yet. Most of these days were spent in solitary confinement and inhumane conditions.
In an online chat Bradley Manning allegedly said, “God knows what happens now. Hopefully worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms... I want people to see the truth... because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public.” He was motivated by the highest ideals of democracy and truth.
The hundreds of thousands of government documents on US wars and diplomatic relations that he allegedly leaked provide ordinary citizens and popular movements, human rights and environmental activists, journalists and readers, with crucial information about the real state of our world. Knowledge is power, and thanks to this release the power is ours. A great headwaters of truth was undammed last year, and from it flows this revolutionary river. It cannot be re-dammed, but the government of the United States has inflicted cruel and unusual punishment on the alleged source, the 23-year-old soldier named Bradley Manning.
Before he was elected, candidate Barack Obama said of whistle blowers that “their acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled.” Now, “the Obama Administration is proving more aggressive than the Bush administration in seeking to punish unauthorized leaks,” wrote The New York Times last month.
The government calls him a traitor. Daniel Ellsberg, whose own leak of the Pentagon Papers helped end the Vietnam War and bring down a president, calls him a hero. In a widely circulated essay last week from Tomdispatch.com, civil rights lawyer Chase Madar argued that he deserves a presidential Medal of Freedom because he has given the “foreign policy elite” public supervision; because the WikiLeaks disclosures have helped spark democratic revolutions across the Middle East, “accomplishing what Operation Iraqi Freedom never could”; and exposing “the pathological over-classification of America’s public documents.” Madar concludes, “At immense personal cost, Bradley Manning has upheld a great American tradition of transparency in statecraft and for that he should be an American hero, not an American felon.” He’s a hero around the world.
The WikiLeaks whistle-blower’s work is done, but ours is just beginning. Bradley Manning needs your voice for truth and justice. For supporters of Courage to Resist like you, this also means your donation, because defending this champion of truth and making his story known costs money. We need to make the cost of “shooting the messenger” and punishing the hero too high.
Five years ago, Courage to Resist initiated the campaign to support Lt. Ehren Watada, the first U.S. officer to refuse deployment to the Iraq War, which he understood to be illegal. The Government intended to make an example of Lt. Watada by putting him away in prison for many years in order to deter other soldiers from standing up. Instead, a well organized political and legal support campaign kept Lt. Watada from spending a single day in jail. This sent a clear message to other soldiers: If you stand up, there will be support for you. Now Courage to Resist is leading the campaign to support this brave truth-teller as the hub of the Bradley Manning Support Network.
Please join us in supporting Courage to Resist’s work—an amazingly effective grassroots organization. Let’s make a positive example of Bradley Manning and other soldiers who stand up for truth. Let’s keep the river of truth flowing!
Rebecca Solnit & David Solnit
p.s. We hope you’re able to become a monthly sustainer, or are able to make a larger-than-you-first-thought contribution, so that together we can continue to build support not only for Bradley Manning, but other military war objectors as well.