Chelsea Manning (2018)
UPDATE TO EVENT:
The Department of Home Affairs has not made a decision on Chelsea Manning’s visa application. This did not provide Chelsea or Think Inc. enough time to successfully implement her scheduled live appearances at the Melbourne Convention Centre on Friday 7 September or The Tivoli on Tuesday 11 September. Think Inc. ran the Melbourne and Brisbane events live via satellite from Auckland.
The jailed hero (or traitor, depending where you stand) Chelsea Manning is speaking to Australia.
In 2010, as a US soldier stationed in Iraq, she decided to blow the whistle on her own army. She smuggled classified files off her base on a CD labelled ‘Lady Gaga’ and passed them on to Wikileaks. The video files showed horrifying and morally questionable airstrikes. A journalist she thought she could trust squealed on her and she was arrested for treason. This could have earned her the death penalty but she got away with 35 years jail, later commuted to seven.
She’s been out of jail for over a year but still walking into trouble everywhere she goes. Harvard University honored her with a fellowship, motivating a former CIA man to resign from his post at the university. A traitor shouldn’t be honored, he said.
In prison Chelsea (a transwoman, born Bradley) began taking medication to assist in her gender transition. Now she uses her influence to fight for trans rights. And prison didn’t break her brain or change her mind about other political matters. She’s still winding up neoconservatives by attacking US foreign policy.
But it’s not only that side of politics that she has pissed off. Someone released photos of her playing Cards Against Humanity in a lounge room, with people labelled ‘alt-right’. And then hanging at a nightclub with other ‘alt-right’ figures. Had Chelsea jumped sides to join Team Pepe The Frog? She defended herself, saying she was just snooping. “I viewed this as an opportunity to use the celebrity and fame I’ve gotten since getting out of prison to gather information and to ultimately find ways in which we who are against the alt-right can undermine the alt-right.”
Chelsea has talked to Australia about her life. How to be a sneak, how to survive in prison and how to stop the government and corporations from chipping away at our privacy even more. Those who came along had a chance to see if they could spot the ASIO agents pretending to be regular punters in the audience.