The stern rejection of Army whistle-blower Bradley Manning as a grand marshal of the San Francisco Pride Parade combined with the event’s uncritical embrace of sponsorship by law-breaking corporations reveals how liberal causes can be corrupted by business-backed authoritarianism, writes Glenn Greenwald.

In a letter from Lisa L. Williams, president of the board of SF Pride, we learn that Manning was prematurely announced as a grand marshal by a renegade “staff person” and that the culprit “has been disciplined.” She then accuses Manning of “actions which placed in harms way the lives of our men and women in uniform,” a false claim that was spread by top U.S. military officials and that has since been extensively debunked. Finally, she announces in draconian tones, that “even the hint of support” for Manning’s action “will not be tolerated by the leadership of San Francisco Pride.”

Greenwald points out that the parade is sponsored by numerous corporations that have broken the law and either are or were being pursued by the criminal justice system. Backers AT&T and Verizon enabled illegal spying on U.S. citizens by the Bush administration in the mid-2000s and were shielded from the consequences upon being retroactively immunized by Congress. Bank of America is being sued for $1 billion by the U.S. government for allegedly engaging in a systematic scheme of mortgage fraud. And Clear Channel, the media company owned by Bain Capital, a finance firm founded by Republican Mitt Romney, broadcasts the radio programs of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck — men who are not friends to the LGBT community.

“[A]pparently,” writes Greenwald, “the very high-minded ethical standards of Lisa L Williams and the SF Pride Board apply only to young and powerless Army Privates who engage in an act of conscience against the US war machine, but instantly disappear for large corporations and banks that hand over cash. What we really see here is how the largest and most corrupt corporations own not just the government but also the culture. Even at the San Francisco Gay Pride Parade, once an iconic symbol of cultural dissent and disregard for stifling peities [sic], nothing can happen that might offend AT&T and the Bank of America. The minute something even a bit deviant takes place (as defined by standards imposed by America’s political and corporate class), even the SF Gay Pride Parade must scamper, capitulate, apologize, and take an oath of fealty to their orthodoxies (we adore the military, the state, and your laws). And, as usual, the largest corporate factions are completely exempt from the strictures and standards applied to the marginalized and powerless. Thus, while Bradley Manning is persona non grata at SF Pride, illegal eavesdropping telecoms, scheming banks, and hedge-fund purveryors of the nation’s worst right-wing agitprop are more than welcome.”

Read the rest of Greenwald’s criticism here and see a complete list of the event’s sponsors here.

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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