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Chelsea Manning & Progressive Potemkinism

Did you see this?:

Bradley Manning, the Army private sentenced to military prison for leaking classified documents, revealed he intends to live out the remainder of his life as a woman.

“I am Chelsea Manning. I am female,” the Army private wrote in a statement read on TODAY Thursday. “Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. I hope that you will support me in this transition.”

Manning, 25, was sentenced to 35 years in prison on Wednesday after having been found guilty of 20 charges ranging from espionage to theft for leaking more than 700,000 documents to the WikiLeaks website while working in Iraq in 2010.

“I also request that, starting today, you refer to me by my new name and use the feminine pronoun (except in official mail to the confinement facility),” he continued in the statement. “I look forward to receiving letters from supporters and having the opportunity to write back.”

Manning signed the letter “Chelsea E. Manning.”

I presume Bradley Manning still has a penis and male chromosomes. He is not a female simply because he says he is. Though I very much doubt that the military will give him the female hormones he has requested for his prison stay, Manning may have the operation one day, but for now, he is still a he. I don’t see why feeling pity for Manning’s psychological suffering requires us to play along with his hallucination. If you want to do so, be my guest, but shouldn’t journalists hold themselves to different standards? It will be interesting to see if any media go along with this request. At least one already has, according to a male reader who writes:

I just watched a segment on the CBS morning show. Maning’s attorney said thatg manning is really Chelsea and wants to be referred to as a “she.” And you know what? The anchor did from that point on.

Forget the sex side of this; what about the journalism angle? What else am I allowed to dictate? If Al Gore wants to come on and be referred to as “President Gore,” do they comply with that? If Anthony Weiner insists on being called, “the entirely wholesome and family positive Anthony Weiner,” do they do that?

I mean, these are all statements that color how people view these people. You can check and see if Gore was ever president. Even if you disagree with the Supreme Court case giving the presidency to Bush, Gore was never president. Maybe that’s unfair, but it’s still not true that he was ever president.

Seriously. Let’s say that I am arrested for sneaking into a women’s restroom and ogling women. This gets reported in the news. I tell the reporter that I don’t understand this charge because I am a woman. The reporter agrees to do this. Well, the news no longer makes sense. It’s, “Woman arrested for using women’s restroom.”

Clearly this reader is a raging bigot. Then again, reality is similarly biased. Not to worry, our media will do its best to create reality via Potemkin progressivism. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go prepare to lead La Grande Armée into Russia.

UPDATE: A retired journalist friend writes:

I am wondering of this is the bridge too far. It opens the Minority Industrial Complex up to some interesting internal scuffles. The rift between the trans and LGB community is long-standing and well-known. Heck even the LGs and the Bs don’t get along.

So what happens when a “Chelsea” situated similarly to Manning applies to Harvard and check’s “female”? What happens when someone when Bradley’s General Contracting magically become’s Chelsea’s General Contracting and seeks special consideration as a woman-owned business on a federal bid?

A lot of this seems pie in the sky, and I know that you can take this too far. But where this will really happen fast is in the courts, where people could have a very intense personal interest in changing status.

But again, that’s the courts. What about the media? That’s where my experience lies. We all know that female teachers who sleep with students are treated more leniently than male teachers who do the same. If some dude gets caught, the best thing to do is send your lawyer onto Good Morning America and talk about “she” and “her,” which the reporters have established that they will do without questioning it.

In this case, they would either have to do it, or explain why in this case they are verifying the “authenticity” of the claim. And that get’s extremely, extremely sketchy from the LGBT community. Who are YOU to decide? What counts as “authentic”? If you say that this is a “choice” that can be verified or not by some investigative process, should a company be allowed to investigate claims of partner status made by employees?

Witch hunt! Witch hunt!

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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