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Protest Song of the Day: ‘Bradley Manning’ by David Neal

To recognize the power of protest music, acknowledge its role in creating a culture of dissent and how musicians translate social issues and systemic problems into song, The Dissenter has launched a daily feature that highlights a protest song every weekday. 

It is my great pleasure to present to you David Neal’s song “Bradley Manning,” which he sent to be featured as part of this ongoing project.

Neal is a singer-songwriter from Kitty Hawk, NC, on the Outer Banks. He pays the bills by working in construction and building houses and writes songs to express his love and frustration with his country and life itself. This comes from his album “Speak Truth,” which is available here.

In the song, Neal sings, “You’d never risk you life. You’d never bear the price you had to pay. Would it really be that much different than falling on a grenade?” He continues, “There’s one thing I can say, and it’s going to be this: You’re not half the man that Bradley Manning is.”

The second verse Neal sings about why they are prosecuting Manning, but he doesn’t buy any of the arguments. He declares, “I don’t know any generals as brave as that man is.”

You obey without question/You ignore the blood that has been spilled/You’ll never come face to face/With any of your own guilt/And I know what you would have done/Had you been faced with that video/You’d just let it play/Then walk away/Make some kind of joke.

Actually, that is exactly what many soldiers in the facility Manning worked in probably did. It is known soldiers watched the video multiple times and soldiers in secret intelligence facilities spend a lot of time watching these kinds of videos.

Neal finds Pfc. Bradley Manning, the soldier accused of releasing classified information to WikiLeaks, to be “a hero for our time,” but says, “Many don’t recognize that nor do they grasp the bravery it took for him,” to release the information.

He explains the song is from the point of view of someone looking into a mirror confronting the following questions, “Could I do what Bradley did? Could I be that unselfish and brave, knowing the cost?”

Listen to the song by clicking on the player below:

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The Dissenter will be putting one of these up every weekday morning. If you have requests for songs that should be featured or if you have a protest song you recorded, which you would like to see featured, email

And all previous Protest Song of the Day selections can be found here.

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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."