PVT Chelsea Manning tells TIME Magazine what she’s thankful for this
PVT Chelsea Manning tells TIME Magazine what she’s thankful for this Thanksgiving
TIME Magazine asked WikiLeaks whistleblower PVT Chelsea Manning what she’s thankful for this year. Her answer was published alongside those from Michelle Obama, Joe Biden, and 14 other well-known public figures. Her response, while demonstrating wisdom beyond her years, is one that many people who work for the betterment of society will appreciate:
“I’m usually hesitant to celebrate Thanksgiving Day. After all, the Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony systematically terrorized and slaughtered the very same Pequot tribe that assisted the first English refugees to arrive at Plymouth Rock. So, perhaps ironically, I’m thankful that I know that, and I’m also thankful that there are people who seek out, and usually find, such truths. I’m thankful for people who, even surrounded by millions of Americans eating turkey during regularly scheduled commercial breaks in the Green Bay and Detroit football game; who, despite having been taught, often as early as five and six years old, that the “helpful natives” selflessly assisted the “poor helpless Pilgrims” and lived happily ever after, dare to ask probing, even dangerous, questions.
Such people are often nameless and humble, yet no less courageous. Whether carpenters or welders; retail clerks or bank managers; artists or lawyers, they dare to ask tough questions, and seek out the truth, even when the answers they find might not be easy to live with.
I’m also grateful for having social and human justice pioneers who lead through action, and by example, as opposed to directing or commanding other people to take action. Often, the achievements of such people transcend political, cultural, and generational boundaries. Unfortunately, such remarkable people often risk their reputations, their livelihood, and, all too often, even their lives.
For instance, the man commonly known as Malcolm X began to openly embrace the idea, after an awakening during his travels to the Middle East and Africa, of an international and unifying effort to achieve equality, and was murdered after a tough, yearlong defection from the Nation of Islam.
Martin Luther King Jr., after choosing to embrace the struggles of striking sanitation workers in Memphis over lobbying in Washington, D.C., was murdered by an escaped convict seeking fame and respect from white Southerners. Harvey Milk, the first openly gay politician in the U.S., was murdered by a jealous former colleague. These are only examples; I wouldn’t dare to make a claim that they represent an exhaustive list of remarkable pioneers of social justice and equality—certainly many if not the vast majority are unsung and, sadly, forgotten.
So, this year, and every year, I’m thankful for such people, and I’m thankful that one day—perhaps not tomorrow—because of the accomplishments of such truth-seekers and human rights pioneers, we can live together on this tiny “pale blue dot” of a planet and stop looking inward, at each other, but rather outward, into the space beyond this planet and the future of all of humanity.“
For those who don’t already know, PVT Chelsea Manning grew up in a conservative community in the Midwest. She suffered a dysfunctional home life, and she was bullied at school for being gay. She was even homeless for a period, working two part-time jobs to get by. She dreamed of one day going to college, and for this reason joined the Army at the age of 19. A few years later she realized she was not gay, but transgender; since she was in the Army, her only option was to hide her identity while working 14 hour days in a war zone. Through all these obstacles, she has remained committed to educating herself, asking the hard questions, and taking risks in the name of helping other people.
This year, we give thanks for PVT Manning’s humanist idealism, her bravery, and her unyielding belief that through the work of dedicated individuals our society can and will be made more just.
It is not only her actions, but also her unique individualism, that has inspired thousands of people around the world to action. We hope you’ll join us in showing thanks for Chelsea by making a gift to ensure her legal appeals process is fully funded. 35 years is far too harsh a punishment for showing the public the truth.
Justice for Pvt. Chelsea Manning and all war resisters in 2014!
10 December 2013
With your continued help, we'll be fighting to win justice and freedom for
US Army Pvt. Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning in the New Year.
Outrageously sentenced to 35 years in prison for sharing information with
the public, her actions aided people worldwide, sparking crucial debate
about democracy, transparency and US foreign policy. Now, this American
Prisoner of Conscience has shared her specific and personal legal goals
going forward with us, and we need to raise $40,000 to fund these efforts
that include her legal fees, family visits, transitioning and education.
Chelsea has already spent longer than she deserves in prison, but we can
brighten her world by reaching this goal for her 26th birthday next week
Her fate is far from sealed – if we continue to fight. She has already
fulfilled many of her stated aims by raising awareness about the need for
more government transparency, inspiring activists and whistle-blowers like
Now Chelsea is asking for your help with the following:
*Legal fees – We are pursuing every avenue for a reduction in sentence.
These include the petition for a pardon, now in front of President Obama,
and a clemency request to be submitted to the Convening Authority later
this month – which will include hundreds of letters from supporters like
you. Next year the Army Court of Appeals will review the case, followed by
the Armed Forces Court of Appeals. If those come up short, Chelsea's annual
Parole and Clemency Review will begin in 2019.
*Visitation – Since the majority of Chelsea's family has limited financial
resources, grassroots donations can help support the legal defence in
arranging visits, especially from her mother and relatives living in Wales.
*Transitioning – Years prior to the trial, Pvt. Manning began a process of
questioning her gender. Following the trial, she demonstrated how she
values individual transparency in much the same way she values government
transparency. She came our publicly as transgender, and expressed a desire
to identify as a female named Chelsea Elizabeth Manning. She now wishes to
undergo hormone therapy at Fort Leavenworth, the goal of which is to allow
an individual to appear physically more similar to how they feel on the
inside. Although the US Military has historically refused transgender
individuals the right to express themselves openly, given the significant
time Chelsea may spend in military prison, her legal defence will work for
both a legal name change and hormone therapy without delay.
* Higher Education – One of Chelsea's dreams, and one of the primary reasons
she joined the Army, was to obtain a college education. Chelsea wishes to
enroll at a university on the East Coast and work toward a degree. The
Private Manning Support Network plans to assist he financially in this
When Chelsea blew the whistle, she affected millions of people worldwide,
as well as mass movements for government transparency and against human
rights violations of the War on Terror. The only way a movement can be
successful, however, is if thoes individuals who step forward to make brave
decisions feel supported. Please contribute today so that she can see her
family more often, continue fighting her legal battle, receive appropriate
medical treatment, and pursue an education.
Courage to Resist hosts the Pvt. Chelsea Manning Defence Fund in collaboration with the Private Manning Support
We were responsible for 100% of Chelsea's legal expenses through her court-martial - and now we're covering her
ongoing defence expenses, including legal appeals, pardon petition, gender related issues, and family visits. If you wish
your contribution to be earmarked only for Pvt. Manning, simply note that on your donation. Otherwise, we'll use it to
support Chelsea as well as other objectors.