just don't tell
For about a week, America's mainstream media outlets ignored a story that was widely circulated in the British press: that Private Bradley Manning, the suspected source of the damaging Wikileak documents exposing American military policy in Afghanistan, is an "out" homosexual. Now the New York Times has finally acknowledged the story-- but with a twist. Rather than saying Manning's homosexual lifestyle had given him a track record of secretly defying military policies, the Times suggests just the opposite: that an oppressive military policy was a factor in his alienation.
Then he joined the Army, where, friends said, his social life was defined by the need to conceal his sexuality under "don't ask, don't tell" and he wasted brainpower fetching coffee for officers.
Ignore the second part of that sentence; Manning isn't exactly the first enlisted man ever assigned to boring duties. Ignore, too, the hint that he was intellectually superior to his commanding officers-- that too is a very familiar complaint. Concentrate instead on the idea that his social life was warped by his inability to reveal his sexual orientation. The Times is preparing readers to see Private Manning as a poster boy for allowing open homosexuality in the military ranks.
But here's the problem with that argument. From what we've already heard, Private Manning was openly homosexual in the military ranks. The Daily Telegraph reported:
Pictures on Mr. Manning's Facebook page include photos of him on school trips during his time in Wales and at a gay rights rally, where he is holding up a placard demanding equality on "the battlefield." [emphasis added]
It's going to be awfully tough to make this episode into an argument against the "don't ask, don't tell" policy-- not that the Times won't try. Nobody asked, but Manning told anyway.
The Telegraph report also calls attention to Manning's tag line:
"Take me for who I am, or face the consequences!"
The American military establishment is now facing the consequences. The New York Times isn't.
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Posted by: Wild Bill -
Aug. 10, 2010 4:07 PM ET USA
I have always wondered about that "need to conceal his sexuality" bit. When I was on active duty, I did not have to "conceal" my heterosexuality. Neither did I have to openly display it. I was a soldier; my duty had nothing to do with my genitals.
Posted by: patriot6908 -
Aug. 09, 2010 6:49 PM ET USA
These are very damning charges against young "brighter than thou" Bradley Manning. If proved in court and with the distinct possibility that his actions result in loss of life, he belongs in federal prison for life. Moreover, the NYT has for decades skated along the thin ice of misinformation, deception and sedition.
Posted by: Defender -
Aug. 09, 2010 2:30 PM ET USA
Unfortunately, the military responds to the will of the President and the Congress...and we know which way they swing.
Posted by: Gil125 -
Aug. 09, 2010 2:26 PM ET USA
wolfdavef3415, you're thinking of the wrong paper. The New York Times doesn't care any more about the people of Afghanistan than it did about the people of South Vietnam when it published the Pentagon Papers.
Posted by: wolfdavef3415 -
Aug. 09, 2010 12:51 PM ET USA
You know who else is facing the consequences? The Afghanistan citizens who were tired of the Taliban and decided to help the US military to get rid of them. Did the NYT mention that in their story?
Posted by: New Sister -
Aug. 09, 2010 12:36 PM ET USA
Nor will we see charges of sodomy added on to his court martial, even if there is proof of it (e.g., his own admission)
Posted by: New Sister -
Aug. 09, 2010 12:33 PM ET USA
Now watch political commentators get scared to accuse him -- I bet we see a drop in the "merits death penalty" rhetoric we heard at first.