Since her release from prison, Chelsea Manning has achieved a unique level of notoriety. Many see her as a patriot and a pioneer for trans rights while others see her as a traitor to the country. She was convicted in violation of the Espionage Act in 2013 after disclosing classified information to Wikileaks, but she was pardoned by President Obama before the end of his term.
In addition to riding in Pride parades and getting featured in Vogue, she was recently invited by Harvard to be a Visiting Fellow. The title is not an honor or endorsement, but a chance for public speakers at the Kennedy School to open a dialogue and engage with students, regardless of their viewpoints.
But in a recent statement from Douglas W. Elmendorf, Dean of Harvard Kennedy School, he rescinded her invitation shortly after.
“In retrospect, though, I think my assessment of that balance for Chelsea Manning was wrong. Therefore, we are withdrawing the invitation to her to serve as a Visiting Fellowand the perceived honor that it implies to some peoplewhile maintaining the invitation for her to spend a day at the Kennedy School and speak in the Forum. I apologize to her and to the many concerned people from whom I have heard today for not recognizing upfront the full implications of our original invitation,” the statement reads.
“This decision now is not intended as a compromise between competing interest groups, but as the correct way for the Kennedy School to emphasize its longstanding approach to visiting speakers while recognizing that the title of Visiting Fellow implies a certain recognition.”
Although Manning still has the invitation to speak, it brings to mind the many college campuses fighting to have speakers like Milo Yiannopoulos disinvited. It has inspired the alt-right poster boy to organize the upcoming “Free Speech Week” at UC Berkeley.
The Southern Poverty Law Centerhas released a college campus guide and plans to host an event on Free Speech and Hate Speech.