Dear President Obama,
Thanks. I know you’ve heard that word probably 1.35 trillion times sarcastically, but even as one of your supporters who has been extremely critical of some of your decisions to keep Bush Era policies, I can’t find anything to criticize you for in this, shining moment.
So thank you, President Obama, for commuting Chelsea’s Manning’s sentence.
You’re going to catch hell from the right for this, but they can fuck off. They’re just pissed that Ms. Manning leaked information that exposed the war crimes being carried out under their watch in Iraq. If Chelsea had been leaking information on Hillary Clinton, they’d be calling for Manning to be led down the street in a ticker tape parade. But instead, they’ve crucified her since her conviction for leaking classified military materials to WikiLeaks.
To many, Chelsea Manning will only be a traitor in their eyes. Those people though, are pathetic and don’t get what American values really are. Manning was responsible for the leaking of video footage of what can only be described as a willful massacre of innocent Iraqi civilians by way of attack helicopters. That revelation alone should have outweighed any alleged crimes she broke, but there was so much more than that. What seemed to anger the government was that she didn’t leak the data more carefully, but that’s always smelled like a bullshit criticism.
The truth is more valuable than law when the truth exposes heinous acts being committed in our name. So I applaud you, Mr. President, for defending truth in this post-factual Trumpian world we’re about to blast headlong into. We’ve known for a long time now just how terribly conceived and fought the Iraq War was, and Chelsea Manning shouldn’t have ever spent a day behind bars. She wasn’t the one knowingly firing on a van full of civilians, was she?
You also deserve kudos, Mr. President, for not getting distracted by the transgender issue. I firmly believe another reason conservatives are so staunchly opposed to releasing Manning early was her being a transgender female and wanting to undergo the transition from male to female while incarcerated. These people still believe homosexuality is a mental illness even though the psychiatric field hasn’t felt that way in decades, so it’s no big surprise they’d get a case of the “ickies” about Chelsea and become even more obstinate about her release.
In a way, you’ve helped affirm that transgender people are no different in value than the rest of us, and by commuting her sentence, you’ve shown compassion and empathy for someone that the religious right and social conservatives would pillory and vilify. You haven’t always been the quickest to act in defense of your progressive principles and even had to be goaded into coming out in favor of marriage equality by your Vice-President, but it’s truly inspiring to see you bat hatred and ignorance aside and show Manning the respect she deserves.
Chelsea’s sentence was a double slap in the face. The war crimes she exposed were perpetrated during the Iraq War, and for her to serve seven years behind bars while the chief architects of the surely illegal war were roaming free. Dick Cheney won’t ever serve a single day for his lies. Neither Don Rumsfeld nor Paul Wolfowitz will suffer the indignities that Chlesea did, and she didn’t start the war or commit any war crimes herself. The first slap was the Iraq War, and the second was throwing Chelsea in jail to rot while the Bush Administration painted and got new mechanical hearts.
I’d love to believe that this will put the final nail in the coffin that is the Iraq War. But it won’t be. ISIS rose up from the ashes of that campaign of vicious mendacity, and our next president — the bewigged, piss partying one — will be left to sweep up some crumbs too. However, in the very least commuting Manning’s sentence sends the message that a lot of Americans understand how horrible the Iraq War was, and we’re more ashamed of the crimes Chelsea exposed than any she may have committed.
Something tells me over the next few weeks, months, and years we’ll grow to miss you more and more, President Obama. You were infuriatingly moderate in a lot of your decisions to act or not act, but in this act of compassion, you’ve shown me why I was so proud to vote for you. When it matters most, you come through for the good guys. Now, do I think Ms.Manning should’ve languished even this long? No. Do I think you could’ve acted sooner? Hell yes.
But I know for goddamned sure that the piss-haired tyrant waiting in the wings would have never commuted her sentence. Chelsea would have been condemned to at least another four years in jail if you hadn’t acted now. I wish you had acted sooner, and that’s a very common theme in your presidency, sir, but a win’s a win, and any time we let someone go from jail when their only crime was telling the truth, we’re winning.
Now, if we can just get to where we stop putting people in jail when they tell the truth in the first place…but, I guess that’s where “hope” and “change” come into play.
Thanks, Obama. Truly. Thanks.
The Clown Prince of Grime,
Follow James on Twitter @JamboSchlarmbo.