For those who aren't yet aware, a man strolled up along the National Mall (that really over-photographed grassy place in DC where you can stand and
see the Capitol building, whitehouse and Washington monument all in front of you in different directions, and where Martin Luther King Junior gave
that famous address) a couple days back, doused himself in gasoline, and proceded to give what appeared to be a "military" salute toward the capitol
building, before lighting himself on fire. He was put out about a minute later by passersby, but he died a day later in the hospital, without speaking
a word apparently.
Before I go further, I think I should go into detail on 2 significant times the same thing has been done this past 50 years.
Thich Quang Duc (1963):
This man was a South Vietnamese Monk who self immolated in protest to the treatment the Buddhists, who despite making up a sizable majority of the
country, were facing at the hands of the ruling administration led by Ngo Dinh Diem. In reference to this act, and the famous photograph of the event
which powerfully depicts the monk sitting ablaze yet serenely motionless, President Kennedy went so far as to say, “No news picture in history has
generated so much emotion around the world as that one." Diem himself was said to have been profoundly troubled by the event, and gave speeches
immediately to try futiley to calm the anger and passion the event was kindling.
Could you imagine our old 'Barry getting that excited about anything in the world? Sometimes I feel like that generation was somehow more human or
something, and possessed of a shred more decency. I know that probably isn't true, but people today do a good job of hiding their better graces if
they are there.
Mohamed Bouazizi (2011):
This other obvious precedent happened quite recently. Some of you might remember that this is the case of the produce merchant who was harrassed by
police, and had his equipment and produce repeatedly stolen by police, leaving him unable to support his family. After seeing the governor and
proclaiming he would set himself on fire if his equipment wasn't returned, he did exactly that an hour later, at a busy intersection. Tunisia, which
was on the brink of revolution at that point, was pushed over the edge and began the movement that later inspired the rest of the Arab Spring that
Now why the build-up? Why do I give all of this background? Well, days ago we had this:
A man gives a "military" salute to the capitol building and then self immolates. Now the other two situations I list happened at critical junctures,
and were recognized for the strong symbolism they evoked, in one case very consciously symbolic, and the other probably incidental but sincere. But we
are certainly at a significant juncture here too.
We all know the "obam-ination" (obama-nation?) in the form of the Affordable Care Act that is now forcing americans to obtain insurance at special new
captive-audience prices from insurance companies, or pay the price, which we have both parties to thank for (the democrats for creating it, and the
Republicans for carefully weeding out any clause that might have helped anyone, while incidentily saving all the corporatist provisions). We know the
pain this is causing the country, the layoffs, the lost hours, the employees who were eliminated before they worked hour one. We also know the
destruction which the Republicans of Congress have wrought in response to it, refusing to pass a budget until the thing was repealed. They have
brought us a completely unecessary governemnt shutdown which will cost the country billions, and which will lead to some people having their pay
delayed, and others losing it entirely. Most of us also know that this thing is quickly reaching the point of government default, which quire frankly
will destroy our country in one blow. Very few of us like the ACA, but the display the Republicans have given here is disgusting. They are holding the
very future of the country hostage to get their demands fulfilled.
And of course to most of us that month of congressionally-sponsored madness is just icing to a collapse that has been in motion since the 70's, but
that is a discussion for another time.
We don't have a motive in this case, but I think it is safe to surmise that this gentleman probably felt his salute and gesture toward the Capitol
building was explanation enough for what was going on in his head.
What really captivates me here though, is the lack of any meaningful response of any kind from the American people or the media, or any politician. I
mean a man just set himself ON FIRE in the middle of the most symbolic piece of earth probably in the whole country, and indicated both love of
country and possible condemnation for the three ring circus in two houses going on in congress. This was an act of incredible desperation meant to
pierce as deeply as this individual was capable into people's psyches. He mustered more passion and intent for a single moment than many ever attain
at any time in their lives.
And his statement has been ignored.
President Kennedy once called such an act and image one that stirred more emotions than any other.
A man does the same in Obama's Backyard, may very well have condemned his political enemies even, and Barry is silent. Is it possible that this man
could have been his son? Does someone need a hoody to get Obama's attention now?
I wouldn't have expected much from that apparently soul-less, one-man-constitutional-wrecking-crew, but I expected more from Americans than that. I
refuse to believe they are the mindless and disenfranchised lot we are led to believe. I mean I know we aren't Buddhists here, but the gravity of such
an act shouldn't be lost on any modern person, surely?
edit on 6-10-2013 by joeraynor because: (no reason given)