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.

We Need Dissent

Tim Bousquet:

We need dissent. We need the internal dissent of the bureaucrat calling bullshit, the dissent of the scientist freely explaining the world, the dissent of the back-bencher representing a local concern that goes against PMO policy, the dissent of an enraged segment of society taking to the streets. To be sure, these expressions of dissent break message, but they bring a wider view of the world, help make governments more flexible and more capable of responding to the unpredictable, and ultimately bring a societal wisdom that serves everyone well. Dissent makes us a better country.

False Controversy

I sent the following to the Canadian Press because someone who I respect on Twitter suggested that people ought to respond to a shameful piece of “journalism” that’s getting far too much play in Canada today.


White people getting upset that they are not the centre of attention on social media is not a story. Do you spend much time on social media? It has many, many drawbacks but one positive is that everyone is mostly free to say things there. Sometimes, white people (especially white, cisgender, straight men—a demographic I am largely contained within) get upset because people of colour, queer people, trans people… have a voice in these fora that isn’t subject to the approval of white/cis/straight/male folks. And, I’m guessing, whoever at your organization thought this was newsworthy.

Listen. When something happens that affects a community, the people who have the knowledge, lived experience and visceral connection to it are people IN THAT COMMUNITY. Bilan Arte was trying to make it clear that those are the people who can speak to the issue of systemic violence against communities of colour and that they should be given priority to speak to this issue in public spaces. Is that really so controversial?

Please. Think about what you are doing. People are in genuine pain in the wake of the grand jury decision yesterday. And I guarantee you that the people who are experiencing the most visceral pain are not white folks who feel left out because they aren’t first in line to talk about it.