Tuesday, February 27, 2024

R.I.P. Aaron Bushnell

 Maybe if U.S. Airman Aaron Bushnell had set fire to the Israeli embassy instead of setting fire to himself, his act of protest against the genocide in Gaza would have gotten more attention  from the establishment media machine. As it was, the first instinct of a cop arriviing on the scene was to draw his gun instead of grabbing a fire extinguisher or a blanket with which to smother the flames. I guess the cop feared that without gunfire,  the fire might spread to some pretty valuable real estate in the vicinity.

The police reaction and the ensuing media silence on this tragedyare simply reflective of the fact that the the powers-that-be consider the destruction of property to be far worse than the destruction of human beings.  This also applies to the destruction of oneself in an act of political protest.

 And when it's a military service member who self-destructs so spectacularly to protest against a genocide in which he potentially would be ordered to participate ,it renders thr masters of war and their media lackeys completely speechless.  Their own cowardly acts of self-censorship speak for ithemselves; to the extent that outlets like the New York Times have covered the tragedy, they have done so in as perfunctory and repressed a style as they can indecently manage.

 "Man sets self on fire in front of embassy " is pretty much the gist of it. It's rendered as pathetically humdrum a stunt as the  latest disturbed White House fence-jumping or at least no more remarkable than a particularly gruesome traffic pile-up.

"Move along, folks," the media cops on the beat seem to chide those rubbernecker readers. "Nothing to see here."

It's especially awkward for them as Election '24 is in full gear. Genocide Joe would find it especially difficult to shamble up to eh podium and slur out his thanks to Airman Bushnell for his service and his sacrifice. And his standard closing line of "God protect our troops" would neither fit the occasion nor contribute to the kind of  for-profit patriotic fervor that he's always aiming for. 

And it also wouldn't do for Biden to bring up suicide of any kind during this election year, when deaths of despair in America are at their highest level in years -  despite his boasts of  an economy so booming that only MAGA Republicans are mired in the slough of American life,. They are so cynical when  a Democratic future obviously beckons to one and all.

To hear the politicians tell it, our military heroes and martyrs have all willingly and valiantly killed or died for us. Never do the masters of war tell us the real truth: that the vast majority of people join the military to escape poverty, either actual or threatened. That is because wages have been stagnating for decades. A military job means guaranteed food, lodging, job training and guaranteed, cost-free health care.  Recruiting efforts, largely done in high schools in poor districts, take great care sell the benefits and to downplay the physical and mental risks.

The first place I learned about Aaron Bushnell's death was in the right-wing, sensationalistic Daily Mail. The headline in its follow-up story today was. predictably enough, aimed at arousing outrage against lefties burning Israeli flags in a vigil outside the embassy, and glorifying the airman as a martyr. It is the same kind of stereotypical language the media uses when they cover Muslim jihadists fomenting mayhem in the Middle East just for the crazed fun of it.

But surprisingly enough, the body of the Daily Mail article contains interviews with Bushnell's neighbors and plenty of background and photographs.  Even though it's buried deep within the body of the story, it even quotes a psychologist warning that to the extent that the establishment media will cover the self-immolation in any depth, it will be a smear job, calling into question Bushnell's mental health. Absent any radical tidbits, The Times and its cohort  probably will continue to ignore the story.

Besides, they're too busy covering Joe Biden's campaign appearance on a late-night NBC talk show while studiously ignoring the scores of anti-genocide protesters gathering outside 30 Rock. They're too busy analyzing whether Joe's genocide will hurt his chances in today's Michigan primary - where, we're told, only his victory will prevent the Second Coming of Trump.

They figure if they just ignore Bushnell's death, it will go away. So let's make it impossible to ignore. Otherwise, his death will indeed have been in vain.  


Valerie said...

Thank you for writing this post, Karen.

I literally found myself crying a good part of the day, yesterday, internalising the reality of Aaron's Act of Conscience - his sacrifice, the pain he must have suffered, his integrity and honour, how he must have felt getting orders to be ready to ship out to Israel at a moment's notice - knowing what he would be expected to do, kill innocent people. I kept thinking about his parents and those close to him who loved him. To look at his picture, you can see he was a sweet guy – a bit innocent, but good, so good. We’ve all known people like him. Pure and innocent. I wish I had known Aaron - could put my arms around him - could write to his parents and assure them that their son was brave and noble.

I went to Aaron's Facebook page and there are some beautiful tributes - but those who want to see the wars continue and expand and don't want Aaron's powerful message shared widely, are out in full force. Their biggest narrative, given that they would sound like the monsters they are if they were cruel, imply mental instability - and of course, this is the military's stance. But what sickened (literally) me, were just the mean anonymous comments - that were cruel and totally unjustified from horrible people with horrible souls. These emotionally and intellectually small people reminded me of movies where someone is about to be beheaded and the uncouth townspeople are throwing spoiled fruit and vegetables at the condemned.

After yesterday, I feel numb and weary.
You are so right, Karen, we must make Aaron’s death impossible to ignore.

MissingJayOttawa said...

Democracy Now did some excellent coverage of Aaron's Act of Conscience. As much as the Biden Administration and the Military will try to make it sound like Aaron had mental issues, it is clear he didn't. This young man was just profoundly willing to sacrifice himself in order to stop a great evil being done by his country. He understood that by being in uniform and publicly orchestrating his own death, rather than take part in the killing of innocents, that he might be able to affect change.


Mario said...

The effort to discredit Aaron appears so far to be failing. The NYT first reported this event as as a secondary news item with the tone of unimportant dull neutrality. To what extent the for-profit media will equivocate as to his alleged mental illness or inclination to suicide anyway has yet to be seen.

The dividing line between the conscience haves and have-nots grows more stark and the scope of our work becomes clearer, democracy has to be made to work towards justice and equity. This is the larger message of Aaron's sacrifice. One of the signs at one of his memorial events calls for a tax strike. Besides grief there has to be mobilization and solidarity of the humanists. I, out of curiosity, asked A I about humanists: "Humanists advocate for a range of social and political values, including human rights, social justice, democracy, and environmental sustainability. They often support secularism, separation of church and state, and the promotion of science education."

It is especially important now that we proclaim who and what we are, as Aaron did, while what is potentially a turning point in history approaches. It's far beyond most of us to voluntarily doom ourselves in service to a higher cause as Aaron did. He left us with the task to align our conscience with his, as everyone paying attention now measures their courage or lack of it against his.

I don't want this to be about my feelings, but about what this, The genocide and Aaron's sacrifice, means to me. Politicians and media make use of events for self serving purposes. Aaron demonstrated what the extreme opposite of this looks like. There will always be, to some extent, a self that delivers the message. Aaron is evoking an external, disembodied voice that speaks through him. A voice that humanity from ancient times has tried to develop and articulate, the voice of conscience that transcends any particular individual. Aaron set himself to represent that. In contrast there's a clip circulating of Biden licking pleasurably a half pound ice cream cone as the Aaron story unfolded. Is there an insinuation here as to what's important?

Aaron placed his humanist values above his own survival. He called it an extreme protest because, inter alia, it opposes the way a modern American is enjoined to be amoral in the pursuit if his self interest as long as it's lawful. Lawfullness is highly deficient. It increasingly allows for all manner of abuse, degradation and exploitation. A dramatic confrontation with the forces of capitalism and imperialism is looming. Aaron is asking us to prepare ourselves. As he suffered demise, we will suffer the demise of comforts and security as the interregnum between this word and the one it needs to become develops. We will measure our courage or cowardice according to his example. Let's imagine this as Aaron now having joined the Palestinians who have perished and who will honor him for his sacrifice. I would suggest a monument that represents Aaron welcomed by the perished Palestinians into their honoring midst, and the cost to moral humanity inflicted by those who are not.

Erik Roth said...

The headline in this Bezos-owned WaPo story perfectly shows the snide smear perspective the corporate media is presenting to keep us from taking Aaron Bushnell at his word, and recognizing the rightness of the cause for which he courageously made the supreme sacrifice. Their sickening amorality knows no bounds. --

"Airman who set self on fire grew up on religious compound, had anarchist past."
February 27, 2024
~ by Emily Davies, Peter Hermann, and Dan Lamothe

Erik Roth said...

"The tragedy of modern man is not that he knows less and less about the meaning of his own life, but that it bothers him less and less.
The deeper the experience of an absence of meaning — in other words, of absurdity — the more energetically meaning is sought.
Sometimes I wonder if suicides aren't in fact sad guardians of the meaning of life."
~ Vaclav Havel

VLT said...

Courage looks like insanity to those who do not have it.
Kieth McGlashing - a random commenter in the roll at the side of the show.

Interesting discussion about the Middle East with Laith Marouf and Garland Nixon. Laith has some interesting perspectives on the collusions between most of the ME countries and Israel/the US. However, he is strongly anti-Zionists (He refers to Israel as the "Zionist Colony!") but is very upfront with his bias.

At the beginning of the show, he discusses the importance of Aaron Bushnell's sacrifice and how he is seen throughout the Middle East.


Excellent article in Common Dreams written my Anne Wright giving a complete history of people who have felt such a sense of desperation and urgency concerning an evil foreign policy that they elect to sacrifice themselves in order to bring attention to the wrong.


MissingJay said...

Thank you, Mario for your comment. As I read it, it reminded me of JayOttawa - my highest praise.

Thought Criminal said...

A woman self-immolated at the Israeli embassy in Atlanta in December. CNN covered it but then there was no followup anywhere. The media got their marching orders.

So Aaron was smart to announce in advance on social media that he would be live-streaming it. Many entities have saved the footage so it can't disappeared.

BTW, I tend to believe the reports that the man pointing the gun at Aaron and kept yelling orders at him to get on the ground even after he collapsed in a smoldering heap was a security guard for the Israeli embassy. The American cops were the ones using the fire extinguishers.

Aaron bequeathed his life savings to the Palestinian Children's Relief Fund. John 15:13 - 'Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.' He also requested that his ashes to go to Palestine after they get their homeland back, if they'll have him. They are praising him all over the Middle East, if not throughout the United States of Israel.

Chris Hedges: "Bushnell’s self-immolation — one most social media posts and news organizations have heavily censored — is the point. It is meant to be seen. Bushnell extinguished his life in the same way thousands of Palestinians, including children, have been extinguished. We could watch him burn to death. This is what it looks like. This is what happens to Palestinians because of us."

Chris Hedges: "He died for our sins." "These acts are sacrificial births. They presage something new. They are the complete rejection, in its most dramatic form, of conventions and reigning systems of power. They are designed to be horrific. They are meant to shock. Burning to death is one of the most dreaded ways to die."


Aaron Bushnell: "This is what our ruling class has decided will be normal.” - I was afraid to watch the unedited version until I decided that I owed it to Aaron Bushnell to bear full witness to his sacrifice just as I have with all the horrors suffered by Palestinians throughout this genocide/holocaust. As it turned out, surprisingly I was left with a feeling of peace and triumph, not sadness and tragedy.

Namaste, Aaron Bushnell.

Full unedited graphic video of Aaron's sacred act, as he wished it to be seen, is embedded in the the following link:


Karen Garcia said...

I apologize for the delay in posting comments. I just got my internet back after a bad windstorm knocked us offlne all of yesterday and most of last night.

Mark Thomason said...

We ought to remember that in December a woman in Atlanta did the same thing.

The media covers that up, to the extent that her name is still secret.

She lingers still alive in a hospital. She is no longer "critical." So what does she have to say? Nameless, voiceless, she burned herself in front of the Israeli consulate there in protest, and disappeared.

Valerie said...

I think it is significant that Aaron's sacrifice, in addition to shocking the country into paying attention to the genocide in Palestine, has finally brought attention to the woman who who also sacrificed her life to bring attention to the Israeli evil. She would have otherwise been forgotten - which would have been a tragedy.

@Thought Criminal
I also have been thinking along the same lines. While I have distanced myself from my Baptist roots, I cannot help but see Aaron as the Christ Figure / Christ Image in this genocide drama. What were this Man of Conscience's choices? To commit violence against someone in the Israeli government system? To try to blow up the embassy? To go to Palestine as an airman and take part in bombing innocent people? To take part in protests that the government and media ignore? Or to use his knowledge of technology and social media to make a loud and visually shocking sacrifice in order to make an apathetic public sit up and pay attention. I would fly back to the States to attend his funeral and pay my respects to Aaron and his family if it was public. If Heaven exists, Aaron will surely be there.

I know I mentioned this before, but Ann Wright has a beautiful post in Common Dreams https://www.commondreams.org/opinion/kill-selves-to-stop-war about those who have self-immolated and the powerful statement it has made. There are other essays there, but to me, it was the most powerful.

"The three protest deaths in 1965 mobilized the anti-war community to begin weekly vigils at the White House and Congress."

I know I probably sound overly religious (which I am not) when I write this, but Aaron, the woman in Atlanta and these Vietnam protester truly were martyrs in the most noble sense.

Valerie said...


I didn't realise the Atlanta martyr was still alive. How tragic. Let us know if you find out her name. It isn't much considering her sacrifice, but if there is a fund to help her in any way, I would like to contribute to it.

Thought Criminal said...

'War is when the government tells you who the enemy is. Revolution is when you figure it out yourself.'

'To find out who controls you, figure out who you're not allowed to criticize.'

Aaron figured it out. He chose to criticize the enemy in a way they could not control and which is spreading like wildfire throughout the world. May his flaming heart of love for humanity light the world and bring an end to this systemic evil. Insh'Allah.

Mario said...

Some late night musings (Don't leave us Valerie):

I wish it were never necessary to lose one of our best citizens in order to try to persuade the worst ones. Those worst ones will continue to deliver their "militant trash" as Auden called it, while his message about normalizing genocide will resound only in our memories. It is correct to say that those of us who are pained but helpless have been somewhat absolved. The light of those flames have spread over the darkened globe, exposing those who commit the crimes and those who watch and wonder, with this one figure aflame between them. Watching for a sign, Auden's "Ironic points of light", that will carry the narrative to the next event, one that points in the direction of humanity developing a new identity arising from experiencing the collective unbearable.

If courage can look like madness to some, what does a soldier, flicking his cigarette, thinking of his girlfriend, who draws breath as he takes aim at the back of a child's head and succeeds at blowing away the child's face...This appears to us as what? What forces created this person? And what the other one, who perished in a blaze because there are those others. Those others terrify me. One day they appear to be one of us, then they are not. These are the Lieutenant Calleys of our world, who believe that a pragmatic callousness is manly and efficient and end up expressing regret for what they have inflicted. If a culture can be defined by it's human product, when will we admit that we are set upon producing this. Maybe what we need is a long silence. Maybe we can come to recognize all the different voices within us. "I am a multitude" wrote Walt Whitman.

It is not madness to sense that the child's head in your crosshairs is you. The madness is in considering her utterly other than you. If you could somehow see all the strands and threads of evolution that culminated in you, the utterly other would be you. But go ahead, pull the trigger, and set your stamp in history that real estate matters and a child's life does not.

Valerie said...

There is a wonderful discussion about the activism of Jean Maria Arrigo, who passed two days ago - and a lovely, but brief, reference to Aaron - on Political Misfits (starting at about 40 minutes into the podcast) between Ray McGovern and John Kiriakou. I encourage anyone interested to listen. With all of this sad and depressing news of unfit national leaders who have lost their minds, this discussion had the effect of lifting me up. They speak of people who have self-sacrificed for the greater good because their sense of decency and justice won't allow them to do otherwise. Discussion is about 15 minutes - https://sputnikglobe.com/20240302/hunter-biden-transcript-willis-drama-wrap-up-german-missile-scandal-1117082080.html

And here is the link to Ray McGovern speaking of Aaron. He clearly understands Aaron's motives. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=48ce8hLmtyo&t=19s

Erik Roth said...

Polls are perhaps worse than worthless for being misleading, and nothing reported in the so-called "paper of record" New York Times should be accepted on face value, but there a NYTimes/Siena poll finds Trump leading Biden by 48% to 43% with 10% "don't know/refused" to say.
Another poll finds that a majority of Biden's 2020 voters say he's too old to be effective.
We desperately need a Eugene McCarthy to challenge Joe Biden.
It wasn't until March 31st, 1968, that Lyndon Johnson announced he wouldn't run for re-election.
A lot can happen in a month.
Of course, nothing can happen, too.
Meanwhile, the appalling genocide in Gaza goes on, fueled by USA money & bombs, and the war in Ukraine continues to benefit the merchants and masters of war on both sides.
And, "Sweden is joining Nato, but it’s hopelessly unprepared for war" according to The Guardian.
"These are the times that try men's souls" Thomas Paine said in 1776 during the American Revolution.
No doubt we need nothing short of another revolution, but I worry that too many evidently have lost their souls.
“Unhappy the land that is in need of heroes.”
~ Bertolt Brecht
Aaron Bushnell was one hero.
We need more, and some who can live to fight another day.

Putin's Secret Spy (don't tell Hillary) said...

The U.S. Air Force air-dropping supplies for starved Palestinians in Gaza is Biden's cynical clap back to airman Aaron Bushnell. Biden's message to the public - Look, the Air Force is doing good work! Biden's message to airmen - don't try to get out by claiming to be conscientious objectors.

Meanwhile the Zionazis are again hunting down Palestinians with their bait-and-shoot trap using aid supplies, just as they did with the Flour Massacre and have done for months in the West Bank by luring children into the streets by tossing candy so they can shoot them into the open.

Zionazis are shitbags, human excrement.

Biden has eyes in the sky and knows exactly what's going on but hey, war is good for the economy aka Bidenomics.

Anonymous said...

"The police reaction and the ensuing media silence on this tragedy are simply reflective of the fact that the the powers-that-be consider the destruction of property to be far worse than the destruction of human beings."

Indeed .


The announcement of Smith's death came hours before Republican Gov. Greg Abbott met with firefighters in Canadian, another town that's experienced heavy destruction. Abbott started the news conference by offering his condolences on Smith's death.
"He was willing to put his own life on the line to save the property of others, and that is what Texas heroism is all about," Abbott said.