In the wake of the debacle unleashed by San Francisco Pride’s announcement that gay whistleblower Bradley Manning would not be grand marshal for this year's Pride Parade after all, a large crowd of protesters assembled outside Pride’s Market Street headquarters April 29 for a hastily organized rally condemning the move. They held signs depicting Manning’s image, and chanted, “Grand marshal, not court martial!”Read more »
"I was one of the 15 former grand marshals on the electoral commission that voted for Bradley Manning," Barry Saiff, former BiNet president, told me over the phone this morning from Washington, DC, about the Bradley Manning Pride grand marshalship controversy. (As one half of a bi-national queer couple, he lives most of the year in the Phillipines with his boyfriend, who is unable to come to the United States due to discriminatory immigration laws.)
To recap: An 'electoral college' of former grand marshals elected the jailed gay (possibly now transgender) whistleblower who provided Wikileaks with a huge dump of raw classified US government info. Someone announced the choice on Friday and the media went nuts. Then the Pride executive director issued this bizarre statement repudiating the decision and rescinding the honor, to the dismay of the electoral college and a huge swath of LGBT locals. A protest at Pride HQ is planned for today, 5pm at 1841 Market, SF.)
"The list of nominees from the other board members was presented to me in March, and the instant I saw Bradley's name on there I knew it was the right choice. Pride stands for justice, freedom, and an end to discrimination, and I feel Bradley represents all of these things -- as well as complete honesty and bravery. What the Pride board did to repudiate that choice, especially in its official statement -- to not be able to make the distinction between Manning's necessary actions and way the government is denigrating our troops with these illegal and unjust wars -- is the height of stupidity.
"They [the Pride board] are colluding in the giant 'Support Our Troops' hoax that says you must never question the leadership of the military. There is actually no contradiction between supporting our troops as individuals, including our LGBT folks in the armed services, and supporting Bradley Manning and what he did.
So. Pride did a thing. After years of being no more politically risky than an bowl of strawberry Jell-O, the Pride committee -- or some kind of mole within the Pride committee, according to SF Pride board president Lisa L. Williams' utterly weird statement about the whole thing -- announced that Bradley Manning (a.k.a. Breanna Manning), jailed and pallid hero of the Wikileaks generation, soon to face court-martialling, was to be a Pride Grand Marshall.
An honor usually reserved for washed up TV actresses who once said the word "gay" on CBS prime time in the '80s and craven politicos with dead eyes and hard hair, the Grand Marshallship has before this stirred up about as much controversy outside the community as the color beige. And yet, on Friday afternoon, the world's head exploded. (The canny queen who leaked the decision sure knew her press cycles -- Wikileaks lives!) When your dad in Detroit calls you almost immediately after the news breaks to ask how you're covering it, you know its grabbing virtual headlines.
FAIR, the national media watchdog organization, has written an excellent critique of the coverage of the Bradley Manning case, one of the more shameful episodes in U.S.military and journalism history. KPFA's "Democracy Now" radio program headed by Amy Goodman (9-10 weekdays) has also done regular superlative coverage. Here is FAIR's report (B3):
Turning Their Back on Bradley Manning: Whistleblower speaks but press doesn't listen
As the alleged source of many of the most vital WikiLeaks reports of the past several years, U.S. Army Private Bradley Manning shed considerable light on how the United States has prosecuted the Iraq and Afghan wars. Other State Department cables reportedly leaked by Manning conveyed vital information about U.S. foreign policy.
Manning has, in other words, been connected to a lot of news (FAIR Media Advisories, 4/7/10, 12/16/10, 7/30/10): the video of a 2007 U.S. helicopter attack in Baghdad that killed several civilians (two Reuters journalists died in the attack); the revelation that hundreds of U.S. attacks on civilians in Afghanistan had been recorded by the military-- but were unreported elsewhere; the cache of diplomatic cables that uncovered U.S. efforts to stymie legal investigations into torture, U.S. involvement in airstrikes in Yemen; and much more. Read more »
Led by veterans from Iraq Veterans Against the War and Veterans for Peace, supporters of army PFC Bradley Manning protested in some 35 US cities tonight. The protests were planned to coincide with the Democratic National Convention, to demand that President Obama pardon Manning.
They also demanded that the President “retract and apologize for remarks made in 2011, in which he said Bradley Manning ‘broke the law.’” Read more »