In war a repressed and stigmatized person, be they soldier or civilian, simply wants to reach out. It is clear Bradley Manning identifies with a deeper gender identity than most people are willing to even begin understanding. The chat logs of his conversations are reminiscent of some of the same feelings that go unvoiced by the vast majority of soldiers: questioning the purpose of our mission when politics has mired us in prisons of moral turpitude. That Bradley voiced his concerns proves he was the least unstable and most moral of all the members of his team. That he happens to be gay or transgender gives our community a new hero who brings great credit to the moral force of our people in this world.
Basic lessons of military leadership compel us to listen to the concerns of our soldiers, particularly when they are caught in moral dilemmas such as Private Manning was. The moral failure of his entire chain of command is manifest in these chat logs. Our military and these new wars are significantly different from the militaries and wars of the past, in that ground level intelligence can change the course of an entire combat zone overnight. This requires commanders to give ear to the concerns of the soldiers at the ground level, and the intelligence uncovered by Private Manning is of the sort that would unequivocally sound alarms in the tactical and strategic mind of any officer trained in the ethical and moral precepts foundational for war-fighting. The moral incompetence of Manning’s chain of command is astounding.
It is time for our community to see this moral dilemma for what it is: a responsibility to stand together for justice. The struggle for Justice is not the struggle for Just Us. To speak up about Private Manning’s treatment is a moral duty that reaches far beyond one gay soldier. It affects our standing in this world, as moral citizens who stand for truth before perpetual war. It affects our soul in this historic moment, where future generations will ask us if we stopped to help end unjust wars instead of simply pontificating about them from our lecterns. It begs us to prove our mettle as Americans, as human beings, part of a larger family committed to speaking up for others and honoring their sacrifices on our behalf.
Bradley Manning is a soldier of great honor and we must stand with him in his journey to bring an abiding justice for our world. Those who fear the controversy of truth do not know the responsibility of moral living. Their moral silence is a moral disorder.