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The Communists

Mar 14, 2024

The tragic death of a US airman, who set himself on fire outside the Israeli embassy in Washington DC in what he described as an “extreme act of protest” against the genocide unfolding in Gaza, is testimony both to the personal courage of those who are prepared to sacrifice their own lives rather than be complicit in imperialist crimes, and to the disgraceful absence of any meaningful movement capable of harnessing and directing that spirit of resistance, sweeping it away from the counsels of despair and self-destruction and towards the growing groundswell of the global anti-imperialist movement.

Aaron Bushnell, speaking in clear, measured tones as he strode towards the spot outside the Israeli embassy where he had chosen to make his final stand, said: “I am about to engage in an extreme act of protest. But compared to what people have been experiencing in Palestine at the hands of their colonisers, it’s not extreme at all. This is what our ruling class has decided will be normal.”

His words echoed the description given by Atlanta authorities of a similar act that went almost unnoticed last December. A female protestor carrying a Palestinian flag set herself alight outside the Israeli consulate as the temporary ceasefire in Gaza came to an end and the zionists renewed their extermination blitzkrieg over the strip.

Unlike in Aaron’s case, where the embassy’s security held a gun over him as he burned, a security guard came to the Atlanta protestor’s rescue and received very serious burns himself in the process.

Since the protestor didn’t take the precaution of recording her action, the world’s media buried her story, but it seems very likely that Aaron was aware of the event, which Atlanta’s police chief described as an “extreme act of protest”.

No doubt he was also aware that some 30,000 desertions from the US army during the course of the USA’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have been quietly brushed over by military authorities and media alike, who have been careful not to give a platform to those who might take the chance to use courts martial or other proceedings to put the system itself on trial.

The livestream of Aaron’s immolation made his sacrifice impossible to ignore, although western media did their best to present it as a senseless or deranged act, making a point of being especially vague in their headlines. But the video went viral all over the internet and spawned an outpouring of rage and grief from the western solidarity movement – especially striking a chord with those who have been feeling the same sense of frustrated impotence and the same lack of any meaningful movement into which they can channel their righteous anger.

They particularly resonated with the message that Aaron posted on his social media accounts shortly before his death:

“Many of us like to ask ourselves, ‘What would I do if I was alive during slavery? Or the Jim Crow South? Or apartheid? What would I do if my country was committing genocide?’

“The answer is, you’re doing it. Right now.”

The Palestinian response to his action was heartfelt and immediate: he was given the status of a martyr of their cause and artworks depicting his martyrdom appeared online and in the streets within hours.

In his final words, Aaron spoke nothing but the truth. When the BBC opens the airwaves to the likes of zionism’s new Goebbels, Mark Regev, giving them free rein to dress up the continuing fascist holocaust of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip as just some regrettable episode in a “war” caused by “extremists” and “antisemites”, our ruling class hopes we are all going to put our fingers in our ears and hum loudly until ‘normality’ has been restored (or a plausible new normality has been constructed).

But judging by the well-attended and angry mass protests presently convulsing Britain’s political life, protests which show no sign of retreating despite prime minister Rishi Sunak’s thinly veiled threats to usher in a police state and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer’s continued obsession with finding ‘antisemites’ under every bed, the ruling class will be hard pressed to restore even the threadbare public confidence it had previously enjoyed.

And whilst the Labour party strives to patch up the cracks in imperialism, be sure that the communists will neglect no opportunity to widen them.

Rest in peace, Aaron.

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