President Obama will commute the sentence of Chelsea Manning. I'm a little conflicted hearing that, because it comes on the heels of the news that Noor Zahi Salman, the wife of the Orlando shooter, will be prosecuted.
On one hand, maximum security prison as a trans woman would be more dangerous for Manning than many others, and she's served seven years already. In principle, I'm against a justice system which is all about punishment with no chance of rehabilitation.
But also. Also, also, ALSO.
Chelsea Manning is a white woman and a veteran who acted independently. While history suggests that some good came of her information leaks, she also endangered lives. She took her actions of her own free will, knowing full well what she was doing. She clearly believed enough in her cause to do so despite the consequences.
She gets clemency.
Noor Zahi Salman is a Muslim woman who claims to have been unaware of her husband's plans for the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. 49 people were killed and 53 were injured. The Pulse massacre was the deadliest terrorist attack since 9/11, the deadliest LGBTQ+ hate crime in American history, and the deadliest massacre by a single shooter in American history. Noor Salman did not fire a single shot in this massacre, but she has been charged under anti-terrorism laws.
Salman was allegedly in an abusive marriage and feared for her safety if she did not obey her husband. This story is supported by the fact that the shooter viciously beat his previous wife as well. Even if she did know or suspect what her husband planned, she was likely coerced into whatever actions she did or did not take.
She gets prosecuted.
The Orlando police chief has also said that he's "glad" she was arrested, because at least now someone will be prosecuted for the crime. In other words: the shooter is dead, but we still need someone to blame. Is this about justice, or vengeance? Finding the truth, or making ourselves feel better?
Additionally, the government has been trying to extend the definition of "material aid and comfort" for a while. If they succeed in prosecuting Salman, we could see those definitions stretch. It's hard not to see this as a witch hunt -- another symptom of Islamophobia in society generally and within a government which has engaged in systemic persecution of Muslims. I can't be happy about Chelsea Manning being pardoned by the Obama administration when I'm reading about the upcoming trial of Noor Salman under the Trump administration.
She does not deserve this. And I wish people would get as mad about this as they did about Chelsea Manning. I'm hearing liberals up and down the aisle voice their opinions about the Manning decision -- good, bad, neutral, and mixed. I wish more people were talking about Salman the same way.