On Jan. 17, just a few days short of the end of his second term, President Barack Obama inspired both shock and awe when he announced that he's commuting most of the sentences of Chelsea Manning, a whistleblower whose leaks brought prominence to WikiLeaks. As expected, the world (and social media) went ballistic, some with criticism, but many more with congratulations for Manning and her early release in May. These memes and tweets of congratulations for Manning are a reminder that even though Donald Trump is soon to occupy the Oval Office, Obama is still making big moves.
When news broke of Manning's sentence commutation, liberal Twitter veritably exploded with well-wishes for the 29-year-old trans woman whose name is now synonymous with WikiLeaks. Among speculative reactions about what whether President Obama will also pardon Edward Snowden or if President-elect Trump will be able to reverse the commutation were hundreds, if not thousands, of folks celebrating the decision. These reactions prove not only that Manning has become to some, in the words of actor Mark Ruffalo, an "American Hero," but that many Americans view the concept of whistleblowing as an honorable action.
Below are some of the best memes and tweets from the jubilant Twitter moments that followed news of Manning's commutation.
1A Cause For A Happy Dance
Congratulations to Chelsea Manning for getting pardoned! pic.twitter.com/4tHGVh4J59— The Oncoming Storm (@ShomahKhoobi) January 17, 2017
Because really, who didn't want to dance like this anyway?
2A Thank-You To All Those Who Supported Her
Thank you to activists around the world for never giving up in the fight for Chelsea Manning's freedom. #ChelseaFree— Courage Foundation (@couragefound) January 17, 2017
Lest we all forget the work of organizations like the Chelsea Manning Support Network for tirelessly working to help keep Manning safe and get her free.
3She's Free At Last
This Manning-supporting account channeled the popular gospel song that was later echoed by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in his famous "I Have A Dream" speech.
It's important to note that Pres. Obama does not think Chelsea Manning is "innocent". He's simply granting her mercy after 7 years.— Charles Clymer (@cmclymer) January 18, 2017
Chelsea Manning suffered seven years of abject humiliation at best and torture at worst. Regardless of guilt, clemency is bare minimum.— Charles Clymer (@cmclymer) January 18, 2017
Manning pleaded guilty to an initial version of her charges and made it clear she did not want to put anyone at risk by leaking the documents. This Twitter user commended Obama for his decision.
5Glenn Greenwald's Letter
Chelsea Manning is probably the most empathetic person I've ever met. So thrilled!! Can't wait to see what she does. My clemency letter: pic.twitter.com/j9CQhRmxhm— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) January 17, 2017
Glenn Greenwald, one of the co-founders of The Intercept and the first person Snowden contacted when seeking to leak NSA documents, shared his letter requesting clemency for Manning, and it's a touching reminder that such larger-than-life public figures are also humans who love and feel like the rest of us.
6Many Found Her Inspiring
Chelsea Manning is a brave hero who never should have been tortured, caged and punished. President Obama did the right thing!— jeremy scahill (@jeremyscahill) January 17, 2017
Jeremy Scahill, who along with Greenwald co-founded The Intercept, knows a thing or two about whistleblowers — and his assessment and celebration of the situation holds so much weight.
7An Important Message From Another Whistleblower
The British wing of Amnesty International celebrated Manning's sentence commute with words from her fellow whistleblower Snowden, creating an effective and thought-provoking meme in the process.
8And Words About Manning From That Same Whistleblower
In five more months, you will be free. Thank you for what you did for everyone, Chelsea. Stay strong a while longer! https://t.co/PaLvJDvDbl— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) January 17, 2017
Watching Snowden reach out to Manning on Twitter warmed the hearts of everyone who supports both of these famous whistleblowers.
9A Trans Activist's Celebration Of Manning (And Oscar López Rivera's) Commutations
Thankful to everyone who worked hard to make the release of Oscar Lopez and Chelsea Manning possible.— Jennicet Gutiérrez (@JennicetG) January 17, 2017
Jennicet Gutiérrez is known for famously interrupting President Obama during an LGBT pride reception in 2015, and her shout-outs to the organizers who helped free Manning and to Puerto Rican nationalist Oscar López Rivera are incredibly moving based on her trans Latina activism.
10The Implications For Free Speech Are Staggering
Joyful thread: 1. Today's news that Chelsea Manning will be released is a huge victory for free speech, human rights, and democracy.— Evan Greer (@evan_greer) January 18, 2017
The importance of Manning's commutation in the realms of free speech and transparency on the eve of Trump's inauguration can't be understated.
11And Perhaps The Most Important Aspect Of Manning's Release
Chelsea Manning will get an opportunity to live her life in the world as the beautiful and courageous woman she is & I'm so happy!!!!— Michael Curry🏳️🌈☭ (@mcurryfelidae07) January 17, 2017
Manning reportedly endured transphobic mistreatment after coming out in prison, and her freedom will ensure that she can begin to live more openly in the outside world.
Manning's sentence commutation won't solve the issues facing whistleblowers or trans women, but it does send a thought-provoking message to the incoming administration, to the nation, and to the world as a whole.