Donald Trump Calling Chelsea Manning an “Ungrateful Traitor” Proves He Doesn’t Really Get What We Want to Change
This morning, Trump tweeted about Chelsea Manning, calling her an “ungrateful traitor who should never have been released from prison.” His tweet comes in response to (and borrows heavily from) a Fox News report about Manning, who just recently wrote her first column for The Guardian since former President Obama commuted the rest of her prison sentence.
In Manning’s article—titled, “Compromise does not work with our political opponents. When will we learn?“—she criticizes the current state of the progressive movement, calling for a stronger, “unapologetic progressive to lead us.” She believes a bolder leader is what we need, and while former President Obama has laid down his fair share of legacies, there aren’t quite as many as there could have been/should be.
In addition to her criticisms, Manning described the vitriol hurled Obama’s way as heard from her experiences within the ranks of the U.S. Army.
Trump’s tweet stands as another fine example of how unbalanced and petulant he can be when it comes to writing things up on Twitter. As Mediaite noted, his response came shortly after Fox News reported on the matter, and as the New York Times reports, Trump gets his news from the cable television shows that he watches in the morning before going to work—you know, like that uncle who keeps making Thanksgiving dinner really awkward.
The hypocrisy of Trump’s tweet aside (he’s called Obama a weak leader himself, then ended up thanking him for his help in the “peaceful transition”), here’s the underlying message to Trump’s tweet: despite Manning’s much-documented cruel and unusual treatment at the hands of the federal government, the Department of Justice, and the U.S. Army, Trump believes that she should be grateful that she was released at all, as though commutation was a gift as opposed to the righting of a wrong that has roots in dehumanizing treatment.
It’s as if Trump expected her to forget about the activism and resistance she displayed all throughout her imprisonment because she was granted release, something that honestly should have come much earlier as soon as word of her inhumane treatment became public. His attitude towards Manning more than likely extends to his expectations of anybody else who may “get something” from the government now, that we should take what we’re given and be happy about it and shut the hell up about the underlying issues.
Here’s the thing: just because we may be offered what we want from the government does not silence or otherwise change the fact that there are deep-seated, systemic issues that need to be dealt with. Treating the symptom (releasing Manning, which he didn’t even do) does not assuage or cure the disease. Believing that it does is incredibly dangerous, as it breeds complacency.
And as we learned in the 2016 election, complacency lands you in the worst possible timeline.
If there’s something to be taken away from the tweet, it is this: the fight for justice and equality doesn’t end because we’re given piecemeal concessions (though Manning’s commutation is significant in a lot of ways). Digging deeper to root out the actual issues that bred such problems is the responsibility of anybody who wants to realize equality.
Trump does not want us to do that. Like I said, he just wants us to smile, say thank you, and grin and bear it as the rest of the problems just fester and grow.
There’s no way in hell that’ll happen, right?
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