My name is Graham Nash and I am a human being...
I became a citizen of the United States of America decades ago mainly because I did not want to be hypocritical, criticizing this country, throwing caustic comments from the sidelines, usually in song, yet not being a true part of this wonderful social network. I also wanted to be able to vote and I wanted to be able to praise the obvious beauty of this country and it's people and the things they stand for, having been brilliantly set out in our Constitution.
Being a citizen means the world to me, and it also means that I can raise my voice and my opinion.
Obviously no one has to agree with anything I'm saying but I know that our constitution guarantees me the right to speak my mind.
I see many things wrong with this country right now: the ever widening divide between the rich and the poor, the taking over of our government by the corporate/financial elite, the 'buying' of our very democracy by the 1%, the decimation of our environment by the oil, coal, gas, chemical and nuclear industries and the ever increasing erosion of our civil rights to name but a few of our many problems.
I believe that one case in particular, the case against Bradley Manning, has chilling consequences for the future of our fragile society. Manning is the U.S. Private First-class soldier who, allegedly, released the hundreds of thousands of documents to the world for everyone to see exactly what was being perpetrated around the planet by our military and state departments in our name.
Regardless of whether you think that Manning is right or wrong, innocent or guilty, hero or villain, saint or sinner, he is a human being and should be treated as such.
This man was kept in a 12-foot by 9-foot white cell with bright lights on for 23 hours a day, sometimes naked. At night he was asked every five minutes whether he was OK and, if he did not respond positively, was "investigated" by his guards. He has been put on a suicide watch even against the advice of the psychiatrists in charge of his case who, without doubt, felt that he was not a threat to himself or anyone else.
He had not even been charged at this point, nor even touched by another human being in nearly eleven months. Think about that for a second. A human being needs and wants to be assured of his very existence, partly by the touch of others. From what I've observed we treat murderers better than this. In Bradley Manning's words, he did his duty to his country first not to the Generals and war profiteers who are running these conflicts. What he saw, whilst carrying out his duties as an intelligence officer, was abhorrent to him. He felt that the country should be made aware of what was going on, time and time again, in their name.
Unfortunately the president of the U.S.A. has already muddied the waters of this investigation by declaring that Manning had "broken the law." How is it possible for there to be a "fair" trial when the Commander-in-Chief has already pronounced a verdict? Why is the president openly supporting the rights of whistle-blowers except in the case of Bradley Manning?
The lawyer, David E. Coombs, when asked about Manning's mental state, says that his client is "almost gone." That phrase prompted me to write this song with my friend James Raymond:
One of the many ways that I'm privileged to be able to voice my concerns is with music and song. Ideas are really what change the world; ideas followed by actions. On a humanitarian level I feel so strongly that this persecution is both illegal and immoral.
Let us all stand up for justice and raise our voices against a two-tiered system -- the one of "one for us, and a different justice system for them."