Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Danger of Forgetting Chelsea Manning

Image Courtesy of the Washington Post

I am worried that we will forget Chelsea Manning. Currently the verdict has been rendered and the spotlight is on her but after a while the spotlight will dim, the flood of letters and support will become but a trickle, and she will be left alone in the darkness.

Manning was sentenced to prison for a total of 35 years; however, she could be out within as little as eight years.[1] While this may not seem like a long time, we often forget about people rather quickly when they are not being mentioned in the news. Just look at environmental activist Tim DeChristopher who was released from prison just a mere four months ago for disrupting an oil bid. During his time in prison, there was little to no coverage of DeChristopher’s high profile actions or interviews with him and thus people forgot about him.

By allowing ourselves to forget Manning, we will allow her actions and bravery to fade into the memory-hole. Americans have a habit of forgetting the actions of heroes that defy the state or letting these people end up being distorted, dumbed down, and watered down for the purposes of serving the status quo. For evidence of this, one need look no further than Martin Luther King. Many are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the March On Washington and use this time to show King’s I Have A Dream Speech, which makes King out to be a dreamer and ignores the fact that he became more and more radical in the later years of his life.[2] By ignoring the more radical King, it makes him seem as nothing but a dreamer and in this same vain, by forgetting Chelsea Manning, we risk allowing the narrative that she was a traitor and put people’s lives in danger (which are completely false according to the Constitution and the Pentagon) to overtake the reality of the situation, thus allowing Manning’s sacrifice to be in vain.

While it is important to state that those who committed the war crimes will not be receiving time in prison, it is more important to note that the revelations that Manning helped to reveal show 1) the ever-increasing immorality of the US government, 2) the double standard in terms of the justice system, and 3) how many Americans are willing to ignore these immoral and illegal acts in order to side with the national security state.

This siding with the national security state and participating in the demonization of Chelsea Manning is quite dangerous as people side with the very entity that is harming them by destroying their freedoms and disrespecting everything that so many Americans claim to hold dear. It is a dangerous nationalism that has many in such a frenzy to attack Manning. They call themselves patriots, yet ignore the fact that they are supporting a government which has acted in ways that are contradictory to what America claims to stand for.

If we forget Manning, we are, in a way, worse than the government. At least the government let it be known that they wanted to devour Manning, destroy her. They went and treated her “cruel[ly] and inhumane[ly]”[3] for doing her legal duty.[4] The US made no attempts to hide that it wanted Manning to suffer and suffer greatly for the information that had been released and had embarrassed them. If we have supported Manning and then suddenly disappear, we will be worse than the state because we will be abandoning her at the time when she most needs our help, betraying her and revealing that our messages of support were nothing but talk.

We have a habit of forgetting heroes that serve the people rather than the government. We can start to correct this by remembering Chelsea Manning.


1: Keith Wagstaff, “What happens now that Bradley Manning is Chelsea Manning?,” The Week, August 22, 2013 (

2: Kai Wright, “Dr. King, Forgotten Radical,” The American Prospect, April 4, 2008 (

3: Ed Pilkington, “Bradley Manning's treatment was cruel and inhuman, UN torture chief rules,” The Guardian, March 12, 2012 (

4: Majorie Cohn, “Bradley Manning’s Legal Duty to Expose War Crimes,” Truthout, June 3, 2013 (

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Breaking Through The Barrier

Image Courtesy of Church In Toronto

This is a follow up to The Other Matrix

Breaking Through The Barrier: Creating Alliances In The Alternative Media

The alternative media began and in many cases still is a platform upon which one can gain access to views, narratives, and analyses of current and historical events that are separate from the mainstream discourse, media, academic, or otherwise. Yet, there is a major problem in the alternative media, namely the fact that there are so many voices saying so many different (and in several cases, contradictory) views on the issues of the day that it is rather difficult to create alliances to combat the current power structures.

There are a number of different ideologies and ideas within the alternative media. Some, like Addicting Info, push a partisan agenda, others like Common Dreams push a progressive agenda, whereas shows like the Infowars are motivated by conspiracies and a disdain for government. Essentially no matter where one goes in the alternative media, there is virtually always an agenda being pushed. However, it is positive that such groups and organizations are open about their bias as it allows for the information presented to be taken with a grain of salt. However, this is a major problem as creates a situation where it is rather difficult to build coalitions as one group will almost always be contradicting someone else. For example, right after the Boston Bombing, you had Infowars arguing that it was a false flag and Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman stating that “no one [should] jump to any conclusions.”

This creates a situation where groups and individuals that agree on major issues such as being against wars of aggression, wanting to protect the environment, and wanting to respect the Constitution (among other issues), wind up walling themselves off from one another, each group in their respective bubble. These bubbles create echo chambers of confirmation bias and don’t allow us to challenge ourselves. Yet, the greater problem is that they keep us from building coalitions and challenging the real enemy, the current political, economic, and social systems that harm us all.

The question that then poses itself is: How do we overcome these barriers, burst these bubbles and create coalitions and alliances. We need to begin a dialogue among one another, specifically the grassroots organizers and everyday individuals who get their information from the alternative media. From this dialogue we can begin to work together and hammer out a pathway to combating the system. The attention should not focus on who each person gets their information from as that would create the grounds for disagreement and a shattering of the coalition rather than a creation of an alliance. In addition to this, to include the ‘stars’ would be unbeneficial as the discussion would focus on them and their views rather than the actual goal of working together.

Without a doubt there will be disagreements and problems, it will be both a chance to air out grievances and to see who among us is truly as open-minded as they claim to be. It will allow for a chance to get the facts straight and for questions to be answered. But most importantly, it will be a way for people to unite.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Beyond Drones

Image Courtesy of North Jersey

Beyond Drones: Combating the System of Militarism and Imperialism

“When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, militarism and economic exploitation are incapable of being conquered.” - Dr. Martin Luther King

On September 11th, I will be attending an anti-drone demonstration in Union Square, NYC. This will be my first protest and I am quite excited. Obviously, the main goal of this demonstration is to protest against the use of drones around the world which kill innocents under the guise of attacking terrorists. While I welcome this protest, we must realize that this demonstration is not enough, that focusing on drones is not enough, we must battle the ‘War On Terror’ overall, as drones are only a small part of that.

The global drone attacks started under Bush and have continued and massively expanded under Obama, with Obama going so far as to assassinate four US citizens (officially speaking). Yet, while this is extremely problematic, it is a symptom of America’s global militarism. Contrary to popular thinking, this global militarism didn’t start in the Bush era, but rather in the time of FDR with World War 2 and has continued and intensified since then. The US has, overtly, either already been involved in or started new wars/conflicts every single decade since the 1940s. This has created destruction all over the world, not just physically in terms of destroyed infrastructure, but mentally[1], historically[2], economically[3], and socially[4].

However, the problems go beyond just the military sphere. It has leaked into American society, specifically into the social realm and how the American people relate to our government. Socially, this militarism has gone and allowed Islamaphobia and anti-Arab racism to flourish in American society. It can be seen in everything, from attacks on mosques[5] to anti-Muslim ads[6]. This hatred and racism has heavily infected every part of our society to the point where it is seen as OK for TV pundits to spew anti-Muslim hatred.

Americans relationship with their government has greatly changed ever since the ‘War on Terror’ was launched. While the government had previously spied on American citizens[7] (and even assassinated some[8]), it was mainly on those whom the government deemed a threat to the status quo. Now the situation has become much more drastic, with the government spying on all US citizens[9] and has possibly given itself the legal authority to not only indefinitely detain them without trial[10], but also to assassinate them. (Assassination on US soil is still possible, given the fact that there are problems with Attorney General Holder’s letter to Rand Paul.[11]) At every level, the very people who are supposed to represent Americas have been complicit in allowing Americans to be spied upon and their civil liberties to be destroyed. [12] There has been such a breakdown in the rule of law, that there are even secret interpretations of law[13], that the American people can be subjected to, but not know of. This growing authoritarianism must be confronted as well.

Economically, corporations have profited quite handsomely[14] from the continuous wars of aggression around the world and spying on Americans[15]. They are only able to do this because there is an economic incentive to create weapons of war and espionage and to use those to great effect. In order to fight against militarism more broadly, such companies should be targeted for boycotts and information campaigns should reveal to the public exactly who these companies are and that they are profiting off of exploiting their customers information.

There is a psychological battle to be held as well. The American people have become accustomed to their country being at war and being in a perpetual state of war. In many ways, some have become complacement at best and at worst, will actually lead on the ‘humanitarian interventions’ launched by the Obama administration. Just like with the drone debate, we should also work to have people realize that while the names and terminology may have changed, the death and destruction have remained the same. This is especially important for those on the left as there are many liberals whose hypocrisy has been revealed as they condemned Bush’s wars of aggression, but support interfering in the affairs of sovereign nations now that Obama is at the helm. We must combat these hypocritical and uninvolved minds, lest we allow these problems to perpetuate.

We must combat what Martin Luther King Jr. called “the giant triplets of racism, militarism, and economic exploitation” if we are to mount a truly successful attack on the drone war. The drone wars are a byproduct of the ‘War On Terror’ and its associated effects at home and abroad. If we do not look at this interconnected system, we will in a way be wasting our time as we will only be cutting off a branch of a tree rather than getting to the roots. We must go beyond drones.


1: Michelle Castillo, “Study: Suicide Rates Among Army Soldiers Up 80 Percent,” CBS News, July 10, 2012 (

2: Robert Fisk, “It Is The Death of History,” The Independent, September 17, 2011 (

3: Jim Lobe, “Iraq, Afghanistan Wars Will Cost U.S. 4-6 Trillion Dollars: Report,” Inter Press Service, March 30, 2013 (

4: Forbes, The True Costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, (September 1,2010)

5: Kari Huus, “Mosque in Missouri Burns to the Ground One Month After Arson Attack,” NBC News, August 6, 2012 (

6: CBS News, New anti-Muslim ads up In NYC Subway Stations, (January 9, 2013)

7: NPR News, COINTELPRO and the History of Domestic Spying, (January 18, 2006)

8: Democracy Now!, The Assassination of Fred Hampton: How the FBI and the Chicago Police Murdered a Black Panther, (December 4, 2009)

9: Dell Cameron, “Yes, The NSA Can Spy On Every US Citizen,” Vice, June 2013 (

10: Russia Today, Obama Wins Back The Right To Indefinitely Detain Under NDAA, (July 17, 2013)

11: Guy Benson, “WH Official: Holder’s Letter to Rand Paul Was An Intentional Non-answer,” Town Hall, March 11, 2013 (

12: Kevin Collier, “Senate Votes to let NSA, FBI, Keep Spying On Your Email,” The Daily Dot, December 28, 2012 (  

See Also: Jason Mick, “US House Backs Obama’s Drone Strikes, NSA Spying,” Daily Tech, July 25, 2013 (

13: Alexander Abdo, “Government Confirms That It Has Secret Interpretation of Patriot Act Spy Powers,” American Civil Liberties Union, March 16, 2012 (

14: Bill Quigley, “Corporations Profit From Permanent War: Memorial Day 2010,” Huffington Post, May 24, 2010 (

15: Laurence Marvin, “80 Major Corporations Profit From NSA Global Spying Network,” The Examiner, July 4, 2013 (