Friday, March 01, 2024

Media review: How can one suicide incident be a heroic act, while another is considered an act of madness?

    Friday, March 01, 2024   No comments

A member of the editorial board of the Washington Post and its columnist, Shadi Hamed, writes that some of the reactions to US Air Force soldier Aaron Bushnell recently burning himself in front of the Israeli embassy in Washington while shouting “Free Palestine” were not limited to rejection, but also included anger at what he did.

The writer commented on these reactions by saying that some people's quickness to explain Bushnell's behavior as resulting from a psychological illness suggests double standards.

He cited as evidence Michael Starr's description in his article in the Jerusalem Post newspaper of the suicide incident in protest against the Gaza war, as "a state of hysteria," while journalist Mark Joseph Stern labeled those who commit this act as "suffering from mental disorder."

When it came to the suicide of Tunisian street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi by setting himself on fire on December 17, 2010, in protest against the police confiscation of his small cart - an incident that sparked the Arab Spring revolutions - no one questioned whether he was suffering from a mental illness, and even President Barack Obama He praised him at the time as a “hero,” according to the Washington Post article.

Western media rarely described Bouazizi's death as a suicide, and in the face of this double standard, writer Shadi wonders: How can one suicide incident be a heroic act, while another is considered an act of madness? Psychopathy?

The article compares Bushnell's suicide with Bouazizi's suicide, noting that the American soldier apparently thought carefully and alerted the media to it hours before carrying out his act, unlike the Tunisian street vendor whose action was in response to the authorities confiscating his goods and the police's mistreatment of him.

One critic noted that while Bouazizi was protesting against his government, Bushnell was preoccupied with a “distant ethnic and religious conflict.” In his article, the writer believes that the American soldier has no “kinship ties” to the region, “so why does he have an overwhelming feeling about other people’s problems?”

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