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Aaron Bushnell’s Cry of Despair in the Face of Genocide

The media and international community was profoundly affected by the self-immolation of U.S. soldier Aaron Bushnell in protest against the genocide in Gaza. His death and desperate act of protest starkly shows the cruelty and brutality of U.S. Imperialism and Zionism.

Enzo Tresso

February 28, 2024
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Aaron Bushnell, who self-immolated in protest of the genocide in Palestine.

Aaron Bushnell, a U.S. Air Force soldier, set himself on fire outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington on Sunday, February 25. The 25-year-old said while broadcasting his action on Twitch that he “no longer wants to be an accomplice to genocide” as the IDF were threatening to invade Rafah.

Before his self-immolation, the young soldier explained his action: “I am about to take part in an extreme act of protest. Compared to what the people of Palestine are suffering at the hands of the colonizers, this is not extreme at all. It is what our fascist ruling classes have made normal.” 

After setting his clothes on fire, he shouted “Free Palestine” several times.

The soldier, who was stationed as an engineer at the San Antonio base in Texas, died of his injuries in the evening after being taken to a hospital, as confirmed by independent journalist Talia Jane, who was in contact with the young man’s family.

In response, the U.S. military attempted to strip this extreme act of protest of its political character. Secret Service spokesman Joe Routh told TIME Magazine that “the individual was undoubtedly in a psychological state of medical distress.” While the movement against the genocide in Gaza is strongly mobilizing North American youth, this extreme protest action testifies to the despair into which U.S. imperialism is plunging some of them.

The deep despair of Bushnell’s act shows that mass workers’ organizations cannot stand by in the face of the genocide in Gaza. Unions in the United States and around the world must call for strikes, actions, and blockades against the war machine and arms supplies until there is a withdrawal of the Israeli attack and an end to the occupation.

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