08/02/2013 by syrbal-labrys
No, not autumn. That other kind of fall….from ‘on high’, from ‘pedestals’, etc. This is my year, it seems, to struggle for coherency, for meaning, for desire to continue, for ability to keep up a fight that I fear is being lost — not just by me, but by my nation.
Bradley Manning is going to jail for a long, long time. I was military and worked in the intelligence world as a linguist and analyst. What he did was (1) wrong, and (2) stupid, if not a symptom of personal insanity of some sort. And it is much more clearly discussed HERE and also HERE. I feel rather sorry for that young man, and unlike the man at Stonekettle Station, I do not think it likely any recourse to Manning’s chain of command would have made diddly-shit difference. I think many civilians acting out of greed and self-interest have done more harm to this country in the last twenty years, but I do understand why Manning is going to jail. Ultimately, I have to wonder if his shock and his unhappiness and the completely unmilitary grade reaction of releasing information is a symptom of our instant gratification culture? Is Manning a callow youth unfit for the duty he was assigned? Too late to ask now, I’d say….but is his behavior a symptom of dysfunction in the entire system?
I remember the almost stifling sensation of secrecy on that long ago job in a walled city; but it didn’t make me want to blab to a journalist then or now. It made me want to hunker down in the silence and find a peace with the necessity of it all. It made me delve into history and philosophy to track the course of human behavior. It made me try to change my military occupational specialty to something I could feel less ambivalence about even back in that time when the big bad Soviets were going to bomb us all to dust. But my specialty was in demand, the job I wanted was demanding men, not women. I had a child, and was carrying another…I went home and tried to not think of the headlines behind the headlines, without much success.
And a civilian —Snowden, likewise breached the trust placed in him. If his nation could get hands upon him, I’m sure he would be going to jail as well. Is he AS guilty as Manning? More guilty? What were his intentions? Is his act also a symptom of failure and fear? Mind you, some of what both men revealed seems to me needed revelations. But also, it pisses me off that it takes something so spectacularly stupid a way of revelation to get the attention of the great unwashed, and apparently unconcerned American populace. And Congress? Please, they act all “OMG…what the fuck is THIS?” This, you fear-mongering, intemperate bastards is the dog YOU unleashed without its rabies vaccination. This, America, is what you were not paying attention to back when people like me and many better others were saying “Now, wait a goddamned minute here…isn’t this over the top?” and when we were being called traitorous for even ASKING.
The American train is speeding down the tracks, and the brakeman is SUPPOSED to be “we the people” and it seems the bulk of us are asleep at the switch. Only something as devastatingly obvious as moves by Manning and Snowden (or 9-11?) shakes us briefly awake in outrage …and yes, admit it, FEAR. Whatever else both Manning and Snowden are; culpable and guilty as both men are of breaching a trust, they will also be scapegoats for the inattention to detail of life in a democracy that ALL of use are proving ourselves guilty of being. A staggering majority of Americans are willing to sit back and let freedoms that were supposed to typify American life be ripped to shreds…if it was only happening to suspicious ‘others’, not us. Well, dear, dear America…that is NOT how power works.
The alarm clock is chiming wake up calls and for the most part, we are ignoring them. Too many of us would rather read the latest measurement of Kim Kardashian’s ass than check the real news on who is running for office and what they are doing once there. We bitch about our government and its actions, we blame the military for doing their duty, and ignore veterans’ needs…..hey, WE are supposed to be IT. If the fox is in the henhouse, we opened the door. If nothing else, we might consider that the egg on America’s face, put there by Snowden and Manning, is a symptom of our national inattention to self-governance.
And THIS, this is where that inattention and now the surveillance bit lands any and all of us, in a moment’s notice.