Shame, not pride, is what the San Francisco Pride Board should be feeling after reversing a decision to honor Nobel Peace Prize nominee Bradley Manning as an honorary grand marshal in June's SF Pride parade.
On Thursday, local media reported that Manning, the gay 24-year-old former Army private charged with leaking classified documents to the whistleblower website WikiLeaks, had been named by the San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration Committee as one of several honorary grand marshals for the June 29-30 San Francisco Pride parade, the culmination of one of the city's premier annual events.
But the very next day, SF Pride Board President Lisa Williams issued a statement saying Manning will not be a grand marshal. The San Francisco Chroniclereports that "a rogue SF Pride staff member" is responsible for Manning's selection and that less than 15 members of SF Pride's electoral college supported the move. The decision, which was the result of a democratic vote, was then overturned by the board of directors. The "rogue" staffer has been disciplined, Williams said.
Williams said that Manning's selection was a "mistake and never should have happened."
Worse yet, Williams parroted far-right reactionaries and hypocritically accused Manning of endangering lives while voicing support for the US military, whose actions during the so-called War on Terror have led to the deaths of more than 100,000 innocent civilians in at least half a dozen different countries.
"Even the hint of support for actions which placed in harm's way the lives of our men and women in uniform-- and countless others, military and civilian alike-- will not be tolerated by the leadership of San Francisco Pride," Williams declared. "It is, and would be, an insult to everyone, gay and straight, who has ever served in the military of this country."
Williams' hypocrisy rises to even greater heights when one considers that she chairs the political action committee of the Bayard Rustin Coalition. Rustin was, as LGBT activist and author Scott Long reminds us, a "pacifist, a war resister, an icon of civil disobedience... who spent three years in Lewisburg Penitentiary as a conscientious objector during the Second World War."
In attacking Manning, SF Pride, or at least it's board president, has positioned itself to the right of right-wingers like Ron Paul, who lauded Manning and wrote that the imprisoned-- and seriously abused-- whistleblower is more deserving of a Nobel Prize than President Barack Obama, and the conservative Rutherford Institute, which hailed Manning's "refusal to remain silent" in the face of "systemic corruption within America's military and diplomatic apparatus."
There is no evidence that Manning's actions endangered anyone's life. What he did do was bring to light US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. The documents he leaked also revealed that 150 innocent men and boys were imprisoned, and sometimes tortured, at Guantánamo Bay, that a war profiteering US military contractor was involved in the sex trafficking of young Afghan boys and that the FBI trained known Egyptian torturers in Virginia.
As a San Franciscan and longtime advocate for the LGBT community, I am shocked and saddened that SF Pride has officially taken the position that someone who helped expose US government cover-ups of child rape, the massacre of innocent civilians and the killing of journalists is not a hero to be honored but rather some sort of traitor to be shunned and attacked. Lisa Williams and any other SF Pride board members who undemocratically reversed the electoral college's decision ought to be ashamed of themselves. One usually needs to travel beyond the San Francisco city limits, to places where unquestioning patriotism, military fetishism and rampant homophobia thrive, to hear such rabid denunciations of Bradley Manning. Sadly, such ignorant malevolence seems to have infected an institution for which I once had nothing but great admiration.
Brett Wilkins is the editor ofMoral Low Ground.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com