It's been about a week ... enough time to cool down and take a more reasonable look at recent events. As Dark Helmet said in "Spaceballs", "There's an upside, and a downside ...". The upside was that in the first round, Bradley Manning was found not guilty of "aiding the enemy". The downside is that there was this trial -- if one can even call it that -- at all.
When crimes become known, when suspects or perpetrators are identified, our sense of justice calls for a trial. When this happens so selectively, when suspects and perpetrators are treated so inhumanely, and when punishment is the sole aim, then it is difficult to speak of justice at all. And if there must be punishment at all, wouldn't it at least be some semblance of justice if it were to fit the crime? When none of this holds, which is the case with Bradley Manning, all you are left with is a travesty.
We know that leading and not-so-leading figures on Wall Street lied to, cheated and stole from the public and their investors causing the biggest financial meltdown in modern times. Innumerable laws were broken, and in the aftermath death and destruction followed. We know that lives were destroyed, suicides committed ... we know who the perpetrators are but they will never be brought to justice. They will never even be charged.
We know that Bush and Blair, but primarily Bush, lied, cheated and stole (in this case, trust) from the American public and plunged the country into unpayable debt and an unwinnable war. He is responsible for the deaths of upwards of a million people ... Lady Macbeth couldn't live with even one ... and he authorized the use of torture and terror, all in the name of Freedom, so he, too, will never face a day in court, even though what he did was both illegal and utterly immoral.
But, Bradley Manning, who, for whatever reasons, committed much lesser wrongs, who has not caused a single death, who has merely exposed the hypocrisy, two-facedness and immorality of the supposed "good guys", well, he's looking at up to 136 years in prison. And to top it off, he has been mistreated, tortured, abused, maligned, and set upon by a media thirsting for blood, and what do we hear? Silence.
Most people don't know what he did. Most people have not taken the time to consider what information he actually released. He never argued that he did and he even tried to give his side of the story ... not so that he would be exonerated -- he never expected that apparently -- but so that others would understand why. We know for a fact that at least once he took seriously his duty as an American soldier to report human rights violations to his superior officers. We also know for a fact that his superior officer not only failed to follow up on Manning's plea, he participated in its suppression (which is punishable by the same code of military justice that decided it needn't bring charges at all), and so it all falls upon the shoulders of one rather defenseless individual.
Those who have the most to say have the most to lose and they also have the means -- fair or foul, right or wrong -- to defend themselves. Those who are at the bottom of the food chain are expected to say thank you for being torn to shreds by the lions instead of the tigers, or something to that effect. These are clear signs of cowardice. Manning will be made an example of, for whatever petty crimes his oppressors deem fit. Those who committed the real crimes, the big crimes, will go free to be praised and applauded by the ignorant.
No, no one ever said that life is or would ever be fair. But we as humans know what justice is and we know how to achieve it, but we are choosing cowardice instead. The oppression of Bradley Manning is an act of sheer cowardice. And matching that is the silence of all those who know how he has been treated and what is to become of him is no way commensurate with whatever wrongs we believe he may have committed. And that silence is simply shameful.