There’s Nothing Noble about Self-Immolation in Support of Hamas

February 29, 2024 | Kyle Orton
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On Sunday, an American airman doused himself in gasoline and lit himself on fire in front of the Israeli embassy in Washington, DC, after recording a video denouncing U.S. support for the Jewish state. The twenty-five-year-old, named Aaron Bushnell, did not survive, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) praised his suicide as “honorable.” A short essay in the Nation soon echoed this sentiment and condemned those who argue that the death of an apparently troubled young man shouldn’t be celebrated. Kyle Orton comments:

By far the most intense dispute [about the subject on social media] has been whether Bushnell was disturbed or mentally ill. To the “pro-Palestine” set, this is a terrible calumny against a brave man by liberals, centrists, and other political detritus whose concern for comfort blinds them to the fact some humans hold beliefs so sincerely they are willing to die for them. . . . If the invitation to accept Bushnell as a political martyr is to be accepted, then it is important to be clear what his political cause actually was. For an idea of Bushnell’s politics, we can examine his posts [on the influential online chat site] Reddit since October 7.

“There are no ‘civilians’ or tourists who have no part in the oppression of Palestine,” Bushnell declared. . . . Many of Bushnell’s other post showed a minor obsession with how awful white people are, in the manner so frequently seen in American race discourse, and he had exported this framework to the Holy Land.

We are left, then, with a straight choice. Either we mourn the loss of a troubled young man, a human tragedy of the kind that is all too common at the present time, or we accept that Aaron Bushnell died trying to further a grisly political program that includes support for Hamas, the massacre of Jewish civilians, and the destruction of Israel.

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