Planned Suicide Attempt by A Political Dissident To Go Down The Memory Hole Yet Again?
This morning the Twitter feed on my phone (though not on my laptop) surprisingly offered this headline, "Man Arrested for Allegedly Plotting to Detonate Bomb at National Mall on Election Day." Wouldn't have expected such a jarring headline from the notoriously mainstream social media platform. Has anybody even heard about this?
Wow, I thought. Usually the mind-numbing "trends" offered by Twitter are overloaded with vanilla-nothings like #ThursdayThoughts #ThursdayMotivation and other such Orwellian distraction (does anybody believe these are actually trending, and not just innocuous coverups for what folks are really talking about? Remember that Twitter fixed the algorithms to black out both #OccupyWallSt and #BlackLivesMatter, and bury negative Hillary tweets, among other things controversial-to-the-preservation-of-the-status-quo). To be clear this didn't even trend. It was there when I scrolled down a bit and presumably part of a batch of several noteworthy stories at that time of the day.
I started to look into it a little and ponder the wider implications, as I am always intrigued by this kind of act. As suspected there's not much there and I don't have the time to dig properly. Here's the Twitter search for Paul Rosenfeld, alleged political dissident suicide bomb plotter, if you're interested. The initial peanut gallery reaction seems heavy with RW zombie mobs eager to call it a LW liberal plot, etc etc and get back to worshiping Duhr Furor. Looks like the oft-repeated line in the limited and redundant news stories at this point is that he was advocating for a political system called "sortition," a lottery-based election system.
Oftentimes with stories like these you find there's only one boilerplate version that makes the rounds, with no investigative follow up to flesh out a fuller picture of who he is/what his motivations/where his philosophies lie/what his life story up to now had been, etc. I've only be able to find what appears to be the same exact report of limited info at every outlet, as if it were written word for word by the FBI (which is what we learned during the Bush regime that it was increasingly common for tv news, for instance, to broadcast state-manufactured reports, especially during the invasion of Iraq, and "news" reports made by corporations about the benefits of their products).
But the FBI accusations that such a plan had been hatched would seem to instigate a much bigger reaction than the slim pickings appearing on Twitter today.
Whenever I hear of some such act I see it mainly as an act of selflessness (perhaps a result of combined severe depression, helplessness and outrage, etc. though nonetheless) - and it fascinates me. Appears Rosenfeld was another, who like the young man who came to Capitol Hill a few years ago bearing a sign that said simply "Tax The Rich" and shot himself, had presumably planned on sacrificing his own life to call attention to government dysfunction, malfeasance and chronic evil. Rosenfeld's story, however, appears to have included a plan for more destruction, as he was intending to detonate a 200lb bomb.
I attempt to use that word carefully but perhaps I'm using it carelessly. I'm not so sure a potential suicide bomber who was planning to detonate a bomb that would kill others too is merely selfless because he'd chosen to kill himself also, or if that makes him no different than a terrorist who blows up a market in Mosul. I suppose it would be a lot different, and much more desirable as a means to an end, if he were to have been planning to conduct his suicide mission at the annual Davos conference for example. But anyone who has gone through with plans to kill himself in order to shed light on a great political injustice is worth at least having a conversation over.
The larger picture remains: to have considered and then concocted a plan to give one's life to a cause is never a light matter. I wrote about another similar incident involving suicide at the nation' capitol at TOP, though there was the most threadbare information to be found anywhere (his name wasn't even given anywhere in the paltry reporting that even bothered with the story, a blogger somehow found it. Turns out he was a 22 yr old from Illinois named Leo P. Thornton. For days and days after I couldn't find out anything more about this young man's life, and stopped short of actually looking for phone number to dial his parents, absolutely stunned that no journalist had been curious enough to do so). In that story I also mentioned Vietnam Vet John Constantino's similar act at Capitol Hill two years before in 2013. I included his story of deep dissatisfaction with the corporate greed and government unresponsiveness in there too.
Throughout history, and even more recently, there have been many martyrs who have chosen to give themselves to a greater good by using their death to call attention to what is usually heightened, endless and unbearable injustice.
At least a couple of fellow citizens during the 1960's were compelled to do something similar in protestation of the Vietnam War. One was a father of four who self-immolated on the lawn just under the window of Robert McNamara's office. Norman Morrison was his name. He was a Quaker with three kids and only 31 years old. Just doing a quick search I'm brought to Roger Allen LaParte, a 22 yr old member of the Catholic Worker movement who apparently one week later did the same outside of the United Nations Building. How many more were there we've never heard of, because of the cowardice (some might say discernment, because of the copycat result) of the the media battening down the hatches to prevent a national discussion of the war's validity, by not granting the story the Front Page headline it mightily deserved?
Of course Thích Quảng Đức was the famous, unforgettable example. In 1963 he sat down at a busy intersection of Saigon in a Buddhist praying position, and set himself on fire. His self-immolation was documented and the pictures of him ablaze still sitting in the lotus position gripped the world's attention.
The Socialists and the Anarchists detonated countless bombs, especially during the 1920-30's, most famously cleaving a huge chunk out the Federal Reserve Building on Wall St. I read somewhere that during both that anti-capitalist/Wall St upheaval and during the anti-war movement during the 60's hundreds of bombs were set off around the country. Many were never covered by the news.
Of course 26 yr old Mohamed Bouazizi, fed up with being harassed and ticketed constantly by the state as he tried to eke out a living as a fruit peddler in Tunisia, self-immolated and immediately captured the attention of practically the entire Arab-speaking working class and then the world.
One could make the case that from Bouazizi's public suicide in Dec of 2010 there was the quick succession around the globe of the Arab Spring, the Indignados Movement in Spain, the Wisconsin Uprising, Occupy Wall St, the Hong Kong Umbrella Movement, and BlackLivesMatter.
In less than one month after Bouazizi, the 23 yr President of Tunisia Ben Ali, was deposed. That same month protesters gathered in Tahrir Sq tp protest the Egypt's infamous secret police's brutality and joblessness, refusing to leave the square until Egyptian President Mubarak was ousted. He was gone in less time than it took to for Ali to be toppled.
Literally four days after authoritarian dictator Mubarak was gone the Wisconsin state capitol building was besieged. A coalition of local folks angry about their state's increasingly draconian forced austerity on its people while the rich got ever more breaks become a lightning rod that resulted in massive statewid solidarity against RW and Neoliberal politics. First by striking teachers and then by unions and workers in solidarity with them from all over state. No one who saw that coverage can ever forget seeing farm tractors driving into downtown Madison. In May of 2011 Madrid's Puerta de Sol square was overflowing with massive crowds protesting the elections, capitalism and corruption. "A, anti, anti-capitalista" was a chant that was imported to Zuccotti Park a few months later. Occupy Wall St went global when on its one month anniversary a call to the world was put out to start your own encampment. Hundreds were formed. Tens of thousands attended, and much more widespread conversations began to take place as a result.
Seems to me the desperate, heroic stories of those willing to give their lives are purposefully squashed by a craven media who in fact do not do much more than act as protectors of the status quo and the rulers to whom they are courtiers. Most assuredly it is because an individual's story like Bouazizi's captures the imagination of the world. I'm not at all implying Rosenfled's would also. But the charges against him, I think, would at least start a national conversation beyond writing off the guy as probably just mentally ill.
When the media shirks its duty I'm forced to fill in the blanks on what might motivate a person to such action. Was he recently unceremoniously let go from a job after years of as an employee, as so many millions have also been? Has a loved one of his been told their health insurance company will not cover a major illness? Has he or any close friends of his had their home foreclosed upon because of a fraudulent subprime mortgage onto which his lending bank forged his signature? Has he watched in disgust and outrage as his hometown and those in the vicinity are taken over by yet more and more corporate monopoly domination to a degree that every one of the local businesses he grew up with are now gone because they can't compete? Has he been targeted by the IRS for some back taxes owed, an indignation that could boil over when one realized that the gov't tax agency refuses to investigate the bankers and oligarchs who routinely off-shore their money and have high-paid accountants cook the books to avoid paying taxes sent him over the edge? Has he not sat down these past few years and looked over his own station and discovered that he won't be able to survive financially into old age on the pittance of social security as the world's economy falsely inflates the cost of living because of the bogus fake money being thrown around by Wall St and "invested" into Financial Speculation, Insurance Companies and Real Estate? How much of the fine print culture we're no longer aware of when we download new apps to our phones, etc, that enables surveillance of our intimate personal and financial details, and then used to by predatory banks and corporations to keep chipping away at our ever-decreasing take-home pay with evermore chronic fees, pushed him to the brink? Maybe it's none of this. But I get a feeling some of it is probably in there.
So when something like this does manage to pop its head up, if ever so slightly as this case seems to be, one has to wonder why this one now, or how many more like this never even get a peep out of the media, or what would we attribute the FBI's release of this particular incident and not other perhaps even more incendiary ones? Is it a case of the FBI, a notoriously RW political arm, wanting to have the excuse to clamp down on LW dissent? It's not as if their whole existence hasn't already been that (see: Emma Goldman, Paul Robeson, Fred Hampton, MLK, the Civil Rights Movement, Vietnam War protest movement, John Lennon, Occupy, #BLM, etc). I want probing, intrepid reporters looking into all of these questions and more. But they're not there.
Be that as it may it tells me that, when no one in the colluding power nexus of the media-government are listening, there are and continue to be many folks the world over who are at their wits end and feeling a very real sense of something being far awry, and that desperate times call for desperate action.
How deep does the level of disgust and righteousness have to get for one to see no hope or recourse short of a violent act of sacrifice in order to attempt to wake the masses from their slumbering malaise? How much of the opioid crisis is really suicide from economic depression? Or the chronically un/under-employed, the millions thrown out of their homes by Wall St Economic Terrorism, the 22 US Armed Forces vets who put an end to their lives each day in America?
How did we get here? And why are we still stuck in this dehumanized rattrap of not realizing that we're each our brother's and sister's keeper - and that all the strife in the world stems directly from this?
It appears we're doomed to barbarism. Because Americans have been so conditioned with propaganda to not see the dignity of Socialism replacing the rapacious economic system of capitalism.