First Steps...(Now With Update!)
It has been a long, hard road.
Solitary confinement for long periods of time. Other conduct which fulfils many of the most significant ethical (and legal) definitions of 'torture'. Endemic abuse of authority. A gimcrack legal process which led to a positively marsupial court martial and a sentence which was some seventeen times more severe than that previously given to anyone convicted of similar crimes.
(And what were those 'crimes'? Essentially, embarrassing the military-industrial state which the US has most emphatically become by revealing some of its dirtiest deeds in its wars upon non-complaisant nations, upon self-determination and upon international law).
Despite all this - and despite both the snarlings and screechings of the likes of Serial Failure John McCain, Subwoofer Speaker Paul Ryan and the Head Hoxha Himself, President Fart-Euphemism, and the knocked-kneed cowardice of many so-called 'progressives' in hedging what support they deigned to give about with unwarranted caveats - despite all this, as I say, a few hours ago, Private Chelsea Elizabeth Manning walked free (or as free as she can be given all her circumstances) from the brig at Fort Leavenworth, Ks. after over seven years a captive of her country's most vicious and regressive tendencies.
She has a long, hard road still to walk, of course. She remains an (unpaid) member of those armed forces which have treated her so abominally, at least until such time as the slow, tortuous processes of her appeal are completed. The effects of her treatment will always be with her, for all the direct human contact she will now be able to enjoy, having been denied it for so long. And there will always be those who - fuelled by the multiple infections of rah-rah, rage, rifle-fetishism and Republicanism - will want to take her down in any way they can.
Still and all, Chelsea Manning is now free to be more like she really is.
(And I would usually furnish a piece like this with a picture of its subject. However, there are - logically enough - no recent photographs of her, and the impressions and illustrations which have been provided have not, it must be said, been as flattering as their creators might have wished. Hopefully, we will soon get images of her which can give a truer picture of a woman of warmth, integrity and courage. (*))
As for myself, I am proud that - in a very tiny way - I have stood beside her and those campaigning for even the most fundamental justice to be done, as can be evinced by this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, and - latterly - this. To have stood aside and said and done nothing would have been a betrayal of the values which my parents instilled in me, and an undermining of all that I have ever claimed to stand for.
If you have a few shekels to spare in these straitened times, you might wish to donate to the Chelsea Manning Welcome Home Fund to support her through the first year of her near-as-dammit freedom.
Update (18/05/17): OK, we now have an up-to-date photograph. And - at the risk of appearing creepy - WOW!!