Thirteen days ago, the Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics offered a visiting fellowship to Chelsea Manning. Two days later, Doug Elmendorf, Dean of the Kennedy School, rightfully withdrew the fellowship. But the invitation should never have been extended in the first place.
In 2013, Manning was convicted of espionage for leaking 750,000 sensitive military and diplomatic documents to Wikileaks. To many of us who have served in the military (and many who haven’t), espionage crosses the line for when individuals with a criminal history should be barred from honorific appointments.
Being a student or a fellow at Harvard — or any other august American institution — should not be a right, but a privilege. These honors should be bestowed with care and should not be given to those who have sought to undermine their own country. Whether or not Manning is legally a traitor to the United States of America, she betrayed core American values (and was judged as such by President Obama, no less). Such treachery should not be rewarded.