Anybody who grew up in a dysfunctional family knows one of the cardinal rules: The person who mentions a problem is the person who caused the problem.
Let some low-on-the-family-totem-pole person raise a destructive issue that’s hidden in plain sight and all hell breaks loose.
No, the family doesn’t suddenly wake up and say, “OMG, you’re right. We have to do something about that!” Instead, everyone within earshot rounds on the poor sap who dared mention the family secret and the bullying begins:
“Why are you always such a troublemaker?”
“If you’d just learn to keep your mouth shut, everything would be fine.”
“If you were a better person, your mother wouldn’t drink so much!” (Or your uncle wouldn’t come on to you or your parents wouldn’t argue so much or your father wouldn’t have deserted the family or whatever.)
And so on and so on and so on. It’s absolutely depressing how alike dysfunctional families are. Worse, let said poor sap, in desperation, take his complaint outside the family in an attempt to get help and … well, you ain’t seen hell until you’ve seen that.
Because then said sap is not only a liar, a troublemaker, a tramp, a faggot, a weakling, or whatever else s/he’s being scapegoated for. Then the sap is disloyal. A traitor to the clan. A violator of the code of silence.
It’s even more depressing how alike dysfunctional governments are.
The suffering of Bradley Manning, on trial this week after three years behind bars (nearly a year of that spent in horrific, punitive conditions), reminds me just how much a dysfunctional government is like a dysfunctional family.
Manning saw evidence that U.S. government soldiers were committing war crimes — and the government was covering those crimes up by classifying the evidence. (Classifying is used absurdly indiscriminately, in any case; and the Obama administration itself leaks classified documents when it suits their own purposes.)
Nobody could be more of a low-man-on-the-totem-pole than Bradley Manning: an Army private; 5’2″; gay; young; and wearing big, thick, blocky glasses. But he bravely — or foolishly, or both — put the evidence in front of the world, especially the shocking, infamous, truly unAmerican Collateral Murder video.
What happened was oh, so predictable. Were the murderers brought to justice? Are their names plastered across the media? Are they in prison? Were their commanders called to account? Did journalists and criminal investigators across this great land start delving into the crimes and the culture behind them? Were presidents and cabinet members held accountable? Anything … anything?
Of course not. Because we’re dealing with a dysfunctional “family” writ large.
Therefore, the problem is not that agents of the state murder and get away with it. No, that’s not the problem at all. We can all just ignore that. The problem is that Bradley Manning brought the matter to light. And the cardinal rule is: The person who mentions a problem is the person who caused the problem.
Bradley Manning is evil. Bradley Manning is a traitor.
Did Manning break laws? Apparently. But so do we all, all day long. Did Manning give the enemy (whoever they are this week) information against the U.S.? He gave the world facts that anyone could use; but those facts and that video only harm the U.S. because of the actions of the U.S., not because of Manning.
Here’s a thought: You don’t want to be hated? You don’t want your enemies to have propaganda tools to use against you? Then don’t commit war crimes.
Did Manning actually cause any problem? No.
He’s just the poor little sap who saw a terrible problem in his government/military “family” and thought it needed to be brought to light so it could be discussed in the open, the issues dealt with, the problem solved.
Maybe with a little more age and experience, he’d have known what always happens after that.
Daniel Ellsberg, the last guy to do something similar, had age, experience, status, solid help, and the fact that people already hated Richard Nixon, on his side. He still got crucified. Poor Bradley Manning, without all of the above, is like the hapless low-status kid in the world’s biggest and most vengeful dysfunctional family.. Without a miracle, they’re going to crush him as only a dysfunctional clan can.