Ever since the U.S. “War on Terror” began after September 11, 2001, the world has been under the increasing control of America’s global military-industrial-imperial complex. From foreign wars and covert attacks, to drone warfare against civilians and Americans, increasingly this behemoth of bureaucratic military power has added worldwide surveillance and control of all electronic data under the guise of using algorithms to track “terrorist activities”. Today, much of our military power is in front of a computer screen. While institutions like the National Security Agency, the U.S. military, and contractors are busy spying on their fellow Americans, there is a new and Queer insurrection of whistleblowers paving the way for radical truth telling.
While the act of “whistleblowing”, or releasing of classified documents usually showing illegal activity is not a new trend, the emergence of the “Queer insurrection” in this movement should not be ignored. This week, the Army Private formally known as Bradley Manning came out during her 35-year sentencing that she wanted to be identified as Chelsea Manning, stating, “All women and men are created equal”. Before being jailed for her release of evidence of U.S. war crimes, she compared the post-9-11 era in American history to the Trail of Tears, the Dred Scott Case, and U.S. Japanese internment during WWII. Whistleblower Edward Snowden released classified documents detailing U.S. surveillance from his employer Booz Allen Hamilton to journalist Glenn Greenwald, whose integrity has been ridiculed by the mainstream media for his ties to the gay porn industry.
I am describing the recent growth of whistleblowers as part of a Queer insurrection because “Queer is a territory of tension, defined against the dominant narrative of white-hetero-monogamous-patriarchy, but also by an affinity with all who are marginalized, otherized, and oppressed” (Mary Nardini Gang). While women are increasingly let into higher positions and rankings in the U.S. military, the Department of Defense admits that rape and sexual assault of women and men within the military is on the rise and an anonymous survey of members revealed there may have been as many as 26,000 assaults last year—up from and estimated 19,000 assaults in 2011.
Since 2008, the Obama administration has charged six government officials accused of providing information to the media with violating the Espionage Act, a World War I-era law designed to punish those aiding the enemy. This means that Obama has prosecuted twice as many war crime leakers under his administration than all other presidents combined. That’s more uses of the Espionage Act for silencing whistleblowers than under all previous presidential administrations combined.
According to the article “Toward the Queerest Insurrection” by the Mary Nardini Gang, “Queer is not a stable area to inhabit. Queer is not merely another identity that can be tacked onto a list of neat social categories, nor the quantitative sum of our identities. Rather, it is the qualitative position of opposition to presentations of stability- an identity that problemizes the manageable limits of identity”. Who else would dare stand up to the biggest bureaucratic force of war and domination in the world?
Queers “…have always been the other, the alien, the criminal. The story of Queers in this civilization has always been the narrative of the sexual deviant, the constitutional psychopathic inferior, the traitor, the freak, and the moral imbecile. We’ve been excluded at the border, from labor, from familial ties. We’ve been forced into concentration camps, into sex slavery, into prisons”. I would also add that queers have been linked with the term “terrorist”, as in the case of Manning’s “aiding the enemy” charge by the U.S. military, or the recent nine hour airport detention of Glenn Greenwald’s partner David Miranda under British anti-terrorism laws.
The Queer insurrection is about truth telling and exposing the fear of the “other” to the violence and oppression of American Military Patriarchy. The radical nature of the Queer insurrection is an instrument of truth through shattering our most basic societal barriers, and Queers as whistleblowers are paving the way for a new era of transparency.