News Release

* Self-Immolation * NYT Credibility


On Sunday, Aaron Bushnell identified himself in a livestream video as he walked toward the Israeli embassy in Washington, D.C. as “an active duty member of the U.S. Air Force,” adding that “I will no longer be complicit in genocide.” He then lit himself ablaze and yelled “Free Palestine!” over and over. He has reportedly died.

As he burned up, uniformed personnel screamed at him to get on the ground. One officer had a gun drawn on Bushnell until after he collapsed.

Finally another officer said: “I don’t need guns, I need fire extinguishers!”

“I’m about to engage in an extreme act of protest,” he had said calmly as he walked to the embassy. “But compared to what people have been experiencing in Palestine at the hands of their colonizers, it’s not extreme at all. This is what our ruling class has decided will be normal.” A vigil for Bushnell has been called for 4:30 at the Israeli embassy in Washington, D.C.

Meanwhile, Ryan Grim writes: “Multiple NYT sources tell me that the paper is now cutting ties with Anat Schwarz after her social media history — ‘turn Gaza into a slaughterhouse’ — was exposed. Her explosive article shaped public understanding of 10/7 yet the team at The Daily has still been unable to produce an episode based on it, after producers found it full of holes. …

“This ‘freelancer’ played a lead role in the paper’s most consequential coverage of the war, and had no journalism experience. The better question is who assigned her these stories, why, and what were they thinking.”

ESHA KRISHNASWAMY, esha at, @eshaLegal
Krishnaswamy is a journalist and podcaster. She has written an extensive thread on Anat Schwarz on X, formerly known as Twitter.

She is at work on an historical piece on self-immolations. She said today: “While Self-immolation became well-known in the West after Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc’s self-immolation in what was formerly known as Saigon (currently Ho Chi Minh City) on June, 11 1963, this practice has been described in ancient Hindu and Buddhist literature. In one of the earliest tales of the Jataka-Mala, they recount a story of a Bodhisattva (an enlightened being), who jumps into a wood fire to provide food for a hungry Brahmin. In the ancient literature, they always describe an enlightened man who makes a calculated self-sacrifice on behalf of a larger group or community.

“While western newspapers described Thich Quang Duc’s self-immolation as an act of suicide, another monk Thich Nhat Hanh explained why it was not suicide: ‘Suicide is an act of self-destruction, having as causes the following: (1) lack of courage to live and to cope with difficulties; (2) defeat by life and loss of all hope; (3) desire for nonexistence. … The monk who burns himself has lost neither courage nor hope; nor does he desire nonexistence. On the contrary, he is very courageous and hopeful and aspires for something good in the future. He does not think that he is destroying himself; he believes in the good fruition of his act of self-sacrifice for the sake of others. … I believe with all my heart that the monks who burned themselves did not aim at the death of their oppressors but only at a change in their policy. Their enemies are not man. They are intolerance, fanaticism, dictatorship, cupidity, hatred, and discrimination which lie within the heart of man.'”

Krishnaswamy said: “In the continued tradition of western chauvinism, many press outlets are describing this act as suicide and are even speculating if Aaron Bushnell was mentally ill. But, in the East, it seems like these acts have a completely different meaning.”

Also, see “See Dying without Killing: Self-Immolations, 1963-2002” by Michael Biggs at Oxford, though this overlooks self-immolations regarding the 1991 Iraq War.

See “Ignoring Immolators Lulls the Society to Sleep: Aaron Bushnell at the Israeli Embassy: ‘FREE PALESTINE!‘” by Sam Husseini, which notes that while self-immolation was used to spark the Arab uprisings, it has been largely ignored in the U.S.