Bradley Manning is Not a Traitor

There are perhaps few figures in recent years as polarizing as Bradley Manning-the former U.S. solider now accused of treason after the releasing of several thousand “classified” military documents to WikiLeaks. While there are some who champion his cause, and even nominate him for a Nobel, a vast majority of others say he is an enemy of the state who should he hanged for treason.

But can he? Is Manning a traitor? Well, treason is, in the broadest sense of the word, going against one’s own government with intent to do harm. Easy enough, yet this definition leads into the question of what makes one a citizen and thus loyal to a government? The most obvious answer-perhaps- is living within the borders of said state. Yet, this cannot be the case, for if so, we wouldn’t have the recent right wing rhetoric about illegal immigration. No, a citizen is more than that. A citizen is an individual who is expected to obey various obligations-paying taxes, obeying laws- and in exchange is granted full and equal protection under the law. Anything less than full and equal representation is nothing more second class citizenry. Second class citizens are not citizens.

Using this logic, we can see that the members of the LGBT community- whether black or white, fat or thin, flamingly or closeted-are not citizens of the United States. There is no need for me to ramble on the various inequalities faced by members of the gay community at the hands of the government. While strives have been made, the plain truth is that gay Americans are not offered the same rights under the law as members of the heterosexual majority. Lacking even one right-be it a basic human right or one of seemingly minuscule proportions-means that that individual is not a citizen.

Bradley Manning is a member of the LGBT community; as such, Bradley Manning is not a citizen. A non-citizen cannot commit treason. Charging Manning with treason makes as much sense as charging Russian spy Anna Chapman with treason against the United States (what she was charged with was conspiracy against the U.S, not treason). Does this mean that what Manning did is legal? I am not one to say. Does it make it right? Again, that is open for debate. However, Bradley Manning is not a US citizen because of the simple fact that the US Federal Government refuses to grant hi -and millions of other Americans equal protection under the law. As such, the US Government cannot claim to recognize him as a U.S. Citizen. Charge Manning with espionage, charge him with terrorism, and charge him for selling classified information throw any nonsense charge you can think of. But it cannot be argued that what Bradley Manning did was treason. Without granting equal protection, we cannot demand equal prosecution.

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