Happy Birthday Chelsea Manning: Letters From Edward Snowden, Terry Gilliam & More

December 17th, 2014

On Wednesday, Chelsea Manning – heroine, whistleblower and inmate – turns 27. She has been behind bars for four years and eight months, ever since her arrest for leaking ­classified US documents. There isn’t much prospect that she will be released any time soon. Manning is serving a 35-year sentence, with the earliest possibility of parole being in 2021. She has appealed to Barack Obama for a pardon. It seems unlikely he will grant it.

It is against this gloomy and unpropitious backdrop that leading writers, artists and public figures from around the world are today sending Chelsea birthday greetings. Their contributions include letters, poems, drawings and original paintings. Some are philosophical – yes, that’s you, Slavoj Žižek – others brief messages of goodwill. A few are ­movingly confessional.

All send a powerful reminder: that for millions in the US and beyond, Chelsea Manning is an inspiring moral figure who deserves our continued support. Her leaks, published in 2010, at a time when Manning was unhappily stationed with the US military in Baghdad, revealed the true nature of America’s twin wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They also ­illuminated the gulf between Washington’s private thinking and its public diplomacy.

Edward Snowden sums up the mood of collective ­gratitude: “I thank you now and forever for your extraordinary act of service and I am sorry that it has come with such an unbelievable personal cost. As a result of your courageous act, the American people are more informed about the ­workings of our government as it positions itself for endless war … For this we all thank you. Happy birthday, Chelsea.

Send a letter to Chelsea Manning online!

This is Mansa Musa. A Muslim ruler from Mali, who is considered THE richest man in the history of the world. His fortune of $400 billion was 5 times more valuable than that of today’s richest man, Bill Gates. 

“Musa made his pilgrimage (Hajj) in 1324, his procession reported to include 60,000 men, 12,000 slaves who each carried four-pounds of gold bars, heralds dressed in silks who bore gold staffs, organized horses and handled bags. Musa provided all necessities for the procession, feeding the entire company of men and animals. Also in the train were 80 camels, which varying reports claim carried between 50 and 300 pounds of gold dust each. He gave away the gold to the poor he met along his route. Musa not only gave to the cities he passed on the way to Mecca, including Cairo and Medina, but also traded gold for souvenirs. Furthermore, it has been recorded that he built a mosque each and every Friday.”

This is history that they won’t teach you in school. 


I can’t say the job made me this way. More like me being this way made me right for the job. I used to think about it more, but you reach a certain age you know who you are. Now I live in a little room, out in the country behind a bar, work four nights a week, and in between I drink. And there ain’t nobody there to stop me. I know who I am. And after all these years, there’s a victory in that.

  1. A man in a white tālēt (Sephard)
  2. Two girls pose in traditional clothes (Daghestan)
  3. Barnaby Yeh of the Sino-Judaic Institute leads morning prayers (Kaifeng, China)
  4. “[Haredim] Jews of the Belz Hasidic Dynasty attend the wedding ceremony of Rabbi Shalom Rokach, the Grandson of the Belz Rabbi, in traditional dress” (Jerusalem)
  5. Four boys at a bar mitzvah (Abujah, Nigeria)
  6. “ As a Jew of color, you’re this mythical creature that supposedly doesn’t exist. He’s been writing a book about his life that’s going to be called Thoughts From a Unicorn.” -Gulienne Rollins-Rison (United States)

If you have any corrections about the images, sources, or the terminology used, please notify me directly as to opposed to reblogging so I’m more likely to see it. 

EDIT: I have been informed that the term “ultra-Orthodox” is a offensive term and that the word “Haredim” is preferred. I copy-and-pasted from the original source, who used the term, and I was unaware of the connotation of the word, being non-Jewish myself. I have changed the world here and I apologize to those who were hurt by my usage of the word.