Pride in London 2016 - Chelsea Manning banner in the parade
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The Washington Post reports that Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government has rescinded its offer of a visiting fellowship to whistle-blower Chelsea Manning.
Following tantrums from Central Intelligence Agency director Mike Pompeo (who withdrew from a planned speech) and Michael Morell, a former CIA deputy director Michael Morell (who resigned his own fellowship at the school), Dean Douglas W. Elmendorf issued a statement calling the invitation a "mistake" and denying any intent to "honor [Manning] in any way or to endorse any of her words or deeds."
Harvard is a private university (to the extent possible in a mixed economy featuring various sorts of government funding for students, researchers, etc.). Its leaders are entitled to discriminate as they wish regarding faculty and curriculum. But the Kennedy School's action and Elmendorf's statement are a stain on the nearly 400-year-old university's honor.
A ping on the ol' irony meter:
Among those who contend that the assassination of JFK was not the act of a lone gunman, the CIA tends to move to center stage as the likely center of a conspiracy to kill the president. While Kennedy's intent to thwart the military-industrial complex in general and the CIA in particular may be exaggerated, he nonetheless enjoys a posthumous reputation for attempting to rein the agency in.
Now, more than half a century later, the school that bears his name kowtows to that same CIA over what Julian Assange of WikiLeaks accurately deems a "cry-bully complaint" from Pompeo and Morell. It's sickening.
Chelsea Manning is an American hero who, after an illegally long pre-trial detention and a show trial lacking even the pretense of due process, was sentenced to 35 years in prison for exposing the crimes committed by numerous actors within the US government. Former president Barack Obama deserves plaudits for his decision to commute her sentence, and condemnation for not going further with a full pardon, lavish financial compensation for the wrongs done her, and an apology and thanks for services rendered on behalf of of a grateful nation.
The Kennedy School's motto is "ask what you can do," presumably as excerpted from JFK's inaugural address: "And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you -- ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man."
Chelsea Manning asked herself what she could do for her country and for the freedom of man. She then proceeded to act -- at great personal cost to herself -- on the answers she found to that question. No person on the Kennedy School's current list of visiting fellows is even close to as qualified as Manning to teach the mission implied by the school's motto. Douglas W. Elmendorf's denial of intent to honor Manning or endorse her deeds is a confession that appeasing reprobates like Pompeo and Morell comes before doing the right thing for his students.
Shame on Harvard.