If NSA leaker Reality Winner had been born in, say, 1940 instead of the late 1990s, how would she have acted out against America then?
Would she have gotten hired as a secretary in a government office (given the times) and burrowed into secret documents after work, duplicating them and handing them off to one of the always-waiting Soviet agents working Washington? Would she have been one of the many unindicted co-conspirators who set up a safe house for murdering psychopaths like Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn as they stockpiled explosives to kill police and soldiers and anyone else unlucky enough to be in their path? Would she have joined a cult and ended up on the evening news with a swastika carved into her forehead, chanting about her love for Charlie Manson after trying to kill the president?
Leaking classified information is terrorism for the current age, and like other modes of terrorism, it has a fashion and a lifestyle. In 1968, the fashion was dashikis and afros or leather miniskirts and manifestos – think Angela Davis or Bernardine Dohrn, depending on one’s skin color. Today, the fashion is pale-skinned androgyny to full-blown transgender, Asperger-scale, computer nerd.
Mainly, the haircuts have changed.
Leaking classified information, like all other forms of terrorism, is also attention-seeking. Most people grow out of the attention-seeking phase of adolescence when they hit their early twenties and assume adult responsibilities. But some people can’t or won’t grow up, and other people don’t have to grow up.
And this is where Reality Winner is neither in touch with “reality” nor a “winner.”
She’s not officially oppressed enough to be a pet cause just by existing. She doesn’t appear to be one of those trust-fund babies whose parents can afford to bankroll their lost decade or two of violently acting out, like certain leaders of the Weathermen. Nor is she nicely situated in a mod apartment above Rio de Janeiro sitting on a pile of cash from George Soros as New York Times reporters salivate over her taste in coffee tables, like Glenn Greenwald.
Greenwald’s Soros-funded website, The Intercept, is clearly the cool club Winner was angling to join. But Greenwald’s own fumbling of the data she sent him landed her in prison, and so, ironically, now she will have to deal with the adult consequences while Greenwald et al. at The Intercept distance themselves from her in order to continue maximally curating their own reputations.
For, even if you’re one of the certifiably cool kids like Greenwald, it still isn’t cool to throw a 25-year old military veteran living in a rental house in Augusta, Georgia under the bus in order to publish a nothing-burger of a story in your international online spy venture journalism magazine. Reality Winner may think she’s being toasted at The Intercept, but she’s actually become a messy, uncomfortable liability for them. And just in case she spends all her spare time re-reading the Twilight series and watching vampire shows on the CW instead of brushing up on real spy craft, this is the part of the story where liabilities are usually sacrificed to the greater mission.
Unless she can find a brand new way to remain a culturally relevant victim of the man, like Chelsea Manning did by demanding a sex-change operation in prison, her role is going to be limited to a walk-on.
So what sort of ongoing cultural relevance can Reality Winner hope for? To put it in identity politics jargon, is being a white, heterosexual, female army veteran behind bars hip enough to continue Facebook-liking her (it might be, thanks to the popularity of “Orange is the New Black”), or will Winner have to go full lesbian, or, probably, some less-1989 gender style, to remain a hip-enough victim in the circles in which she wishes to move?
Such problems with identity have been an issue ever since white Sixties radicals tried to find creative ways to overcome the burden of their whiteness. Not so many years ago, relentlessly denouncing mommy and daddy and grandma and grandpa – even as you lived off their money – still usually sufficed.
But the scorched-earth triumph of identity politics over everything else means that Reality Winner will need to work harder than the Sixties radicals to overcome her identity – and it doesn’t sound as if she’s got their type of money. “Chelsea” Manning has already claimed the transgender traitor pageant crown – can Reality Winner possibly elbow in on that territory? Or will it satisfy the Facebook crowd, and distract them from the already-boring evidence that Winner reached out to Islamic extremists if she just declares herself non-binary or transmasculine?
There isn’t a gender category named CrossFit yet, but journalists desperate to steer the narrative away from the pro-Islamic memorabilia in her home and mash notes to Iranian agents on her twitter feed are already gearing up for one. In this Atlanta Journal-Constitution article, you have to plow through several “humanizing” paragraphs on Winner’s childhood, exercise routines, trauma, diet, and feelings before arriving at this curious tidbit about her political views:
She responded to a Twitter post from Javad Zarif, the foreign minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran, a top Middle Eastern adversary, posting, “If our Tangerine in Chief declares war, we stand with you!”
In addition to terrorist Islamic dictatorships, the story reports that she also loves shelter dogs, vegan food, and yoga and hates global warming and Donald Trump.
She’s probably just one of the legion of millennials who has been miseducated to the point of believing that they have no right to exist unless they sacrifice their lives to some exotic Islamic terrorist state that can also provide them with an interesting boyfriend.
But there’s a short shelf life for that type of woman, even on the Left.
Winner had better find the right sort of identity, and quick.
Maybe she’s 1/135 percent Native American, like Elizabeth Warren.