WikiLeaks has arranged for three pro-bono lawyers to assist Manning in his case. However, Manning must request they be allowed to see him. Since the Army will not inform Manning of their existence, he cannot ask for them to see him. Joseph Heller would love it, a perfect Catch 22.
For me, Manning is an American hero, part of a strong tradition of soldiers who conclude in their conscience that they cannot morally remain silent on the nature of the war they have been sent to fight. One Iraq vet told me recently he lost confidence in the war he was fighting when he realized in his attitudes and behavior toward the Iraqi people he was becoming the monster he thought he was sent there to fight.
As there is a tradition of antiwar soldiers, there is also a tradition that seeks to damn people like Manning and keep their views far from the American consciousness.
Lembcke looked and could find no evidence at all of spitting. Instead, he says, the image was part of a concerted effort to demonize the antiwar movement and, especially, to distract national attention away from the many instances of returning soldiers and veterans who sympathized with the antiwar movement during the Vietnam War.
No one was actually spitting on our soldiers. Instead, pro war elements allowed their metaphoric imaginations to express their feelings about the antiwar movement with the spitting image. So it is not surprising to see someone like Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal dredging up the spitting image in his recent fraudulent posing as a Vietnam veteran.
Ever since the rise of the spitting image, and especially with the Iraq War beginning in 2003, the antiwar movement in America has walked on eggshells when it came to distinguishing the war it opposed from the soldiers sent to fight it.
"Support the troops, not the war" became the mantra. Sometimes the word "troops" is exchanged for "warrior," a term that calls up images of men hacking away at each other with swords and pikes.
In the film 300, the Spartans live a code of "Come back with your shield or on it." When wars begin to fail, this kind of classic Warrior Myth feeds into the first cousin of the Spitting Myth, the Stab In The Back Myth, which suggests that those questioning wars are, somehow, the reason for their failures.
The Stab In The Back Myth tends to appear as wars fall in popularity and begin to make no sense to many at home who pay for them and many who fight them. We are living in one of those times.
Senator John McCain now likes to say, at times like this "we cannot sound an uncertain trumpet." You can see it forming: Those whose trumpet is not certain in the months and years ahead will be blamed for the disaster that is our policy in Afghanistan.
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