Who the hell is Chelsea Manning?
Recently, a friend sent me an article he was furious about. The title was: Hormone treatment approved for Chelsea Manning. The innocent question that popped into my head was: “Who the hell is Chelsea Manning?” Chelsea, it turns out, is none other than Bradley Manning, the Army intelligence analyst who turned over classified information to WikiLeaks in 2010. Well – at least I think that Chelsea is just Bradley in a stupid-looking wig; others apparently hold some different views.
The article’s title pretty well summarized the rest of the pathetic story. A more apt title would have been: US Army caves to the awesome power of political correctness – again. I am not sure how this particular bit of early 21st century surrealism had, up to that point, escaped my attention. I’m not sure, either, what the grocery store tabloids have to print these days – not when there is “real” news like this. Predictably, my friend was incensed that taxpayers’ money was being used to fund Manning’s desire to be female, and I entirely sympathize with his outrage. However, what struck me about the story was not the federal funding aspect, but the fact that the AP reporter was happy to call Manning “she”. I think I know what “she” means – though I have come to have serious doubts about the very concept of “news”. Sadly, the majority of web stories I have subsequently skimmed are happy to call Manning “she”. Bradley Manning has not had surgery to change his sex – so the message here is that you are “she” if you just say so.
If gay marriage was one concession that many of us were not willing to accept, the Manning story is something even more disturbing – an assault on objective standards of reality. If one can reassign one’s gender just on one’s own say so, then the whole gay marriage thing is pretty much moot anyway. One partner could just swap out genders for the ceremony. DOMA be damned. In short, if Manning is a female in the eyes of liberal society, then for them the whole concept of gender has effectively ceased to have consistent meaning. That’s a step beyond the short term gay and lesbian agenda into a state of social incoherence.
Manning is a hero to the left, first because he thumbed his nose at the Army and second because he has transformed himself into one of the left’s favorite things – a victim. That is really the key. I have long suspected that a fair proportion of homosexuals and “transgender” creatures of various kinds are just a product of the status modern liberalism accords to victims. When the educational system indoctrinates children to believe that every evil in the world has heterosexual white men as its cause – and that being a victim of such evil absolves one of all sin – it is hardly surprising that quite a few young white men want to identify with some other group. Try as they may, playing all the gangsta rap ever produced will still never make a white boy black. However, if one’s gender identity is in any way weak, becoming gay, bisexual, or “transgender” is a way for any ordinary white suburbanite to attain the coveted status of victim. The liberal culture helps at every turn, providing heroes and role models for the chronically confused. As if by magic, what was once an unfortunate individual defect becomes not only normal – but laudable and off limits to critique. I identify myself as a narrow-minded pig even for framing gender identity in these terms. An unsophisticated conservative knuckle-dragger.
When this plague of gender incoherence creeps into the lives of ordinary people, it’s a serious concern. When it creeps into the military it becomes a national crisis. Who the hell is Chelsea Manning? Chelsea Manning doesn’t exist. Bradley Manning is a dangerous piece of neurotic flotsam, the product of a world in which having definite standards about anything is considered backward and “judgmental”. Bradley is dangerous precisely because the rot of political correctness has spread deeply enough into the US Army that they deem it more important to be sensitive to one individual’s neurosis than to consider the needs of the Army as a whole. A military institution, more than any other, relies on strict internal standards to maintain cohesion under the violent and chaotic conditions of war. The most comforting thing that any soldier has is the knowledge that fellow soldiers are predictable – bound to definite standards of behavior. People like Manning, who is ambivalent not only about his own body but also about the institution he swore to serve, weaken that foothold of predictability that the binds the Army together. Standards matter. Incoherence and ambiguity never help you in a war.