The daily newspaper owned by Rupert Murdoch, the Wall Street Journal, chose to take a hot-blooded authoritarian swipe at Pfc. Bradley Manning on Sunday.
In an editorial, the newspaper notes he pled guilty and made a statement in military court. It proceeds to assert:
Alienated by what he saw in Iraq, Private Manning told a military court that he leaked to “make the world a better place” and to “spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy.” He had an “insatiable curiosity and interest in geopolitics,” and reading the diplomatic cables had stirred his outrage over “backdoor deals and seemingly criminal activity that didn’t seem characteristic of the de facto leader of the free world.” So he felt obliged to break the law.
Idealists in a hurry are an old story and the source of much human misery. If he really wanted to change the world, the young private could have run for Congress or started a blog. [emphasis added]
As is clear in the above paragraphs, it is brimming with despicable elitism that shows contempt for the American tradition of people taking action against injustice.
The Journal‘s editorial board promotes ignorance by claiming, “Most of the documents revealed little we didn’t already know or suspect about the conduct of the Iraq and Afghan wars, Pakistan’s double dealing with the Taliban, Russia’s thieving rulers or the Arab world’s doddering dictators (most since toppled).” Then, in a more subtle version of the unenlightened “WikiLeaks-has-blood-on-its-hands” meme, the editorial board adds, “Yet some also revealed much about U.S. military tactics, capabilities and the names of Afghans and Iraqis who worked with us.”
The editorial board concludes, “He is not a hero, despite the attempts by the anti-antiterror left to make him one. He will learn that the hard way in prison.” The contempt is so fierce the editors apply an incoherent label to supporters. It is a reflection of the board’s ardor for permanent war and empire-building and the zeal the editors have for seeing the government punish or demean those who challenge policies of war or empire.
Multiple readers reacted by posting comments wishing for Manning to be killed (and, in at least one example, by a firing squad). One even made a veiled comment that essentially suggested in prison he is likely to get raped and, as a gay person, he would enjoy it:
The newspaper has a public comment policy that states, “You may not threaten or promote violence, or wish for harm to befall another person.” The Journal may claim it was written to apply to users commenting on articles, but the WSJ could easily apply this to people mentioned in the newspaper.
Now, maybe the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal may be okay with their readers leaving bloodthirsty comments wishing for Manning to experience some kind of brutal death or sexual violation in prison because he is gay. The “off-with-his-head” tone of discourse set by these comments might be permissible. After all, the paper did say they hoped he learned “the hard way in prison” that he is not a “hero.”
In any case, it is not surprising that a number of the comments on this loathsome editorial are from men making comments supportive of Manning experiencing violent death. Nor is it surprising that twenty-three people recommended the comment calling for Manning to explicitly be killed by a firing squad. The comments are an inevitable byproduct of newspaper editorial boards, which publish columns about dissidents or whistleblowers that are rife with nationalistic “He-Is-Not-a-Hero” zealotry.
Photo by Eva Rinaldi released under Creative Commons License