Heroes or Traitors

Mild spoilers ahead.


I saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens on Friday. One of the film’s protagonists is Finn (John Boyega), a Stormtrooper who deserts his unit and joins the Resistance after being ordered to participate in the slaughter of civilians on the desert planet of Jakku.

That’s why I found it so jarring to see that a pair of Stormtroopers had [appeared] at the White House press briefing alongside Press Secretary Josh Earnest on Friday. Evidently the irony was lost on those in the West Wing who have ignored appeals for the pardon of Private Chelsea Manning.

Manning is currently serving a 35-year sentence at the United States Disciplinary Barracks in Fort Leavenworth for leaking military records from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. Her act of whistleblowing was prompted in part by [footage] of an army helicopter firing on unarmed civilians.

So, a long time ago in a galaxy far far away, a soldier who abandons their post in an act of conscious resistance is our hero. But in the United States, a soldier who reveals a war crime to the world is a traitor who has spent the last six years in military prison.

I guess those two Stormtroopers know where they belong.