All posts by Thomas L. Knapp

Then There Was The Time Tom Cotton Bemoaned “Extremism”

Aaron Bushnell

On February 25, Aaron Bushnell live-streamed the following statement:

“I am an active duty member of the United States Air Force. And I will no longer be complicit to genocide. 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 colonizers — it’s not extreme at all. This is what our ruling class has decided will be normal.”

Then, dressed in an Air Force uniform, he doused himself with a flammable liquid and set himself on fire, repeatedly screaming “Free Palestine!” as the flames consumed him. He died a short time later at a local hospital.

Now US Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) wants the US Department of Defense to explain “how this individual was allowed to serve on active duty” and whether he was “ever identified as exhibiting extremist leanings.” In his letter, Cotton probably libels Bushnell, claiming that his suicidal act was “in support of a terrorist group.”

To Cotton’s mind, the Israeli regime’s murders of civilians in Gaza — the current toll stands at 30,000 or more —  are morally justifiable and worthy of his support, while killing one’s self in protest against genocide is “extremist” and supportive of “terrorism.”

Color me unsurprised. Cotton’s incapable of opening his mouth without revealing the sewer of narcissism and sociopathy that passes for his mind.

This is the guy who believes America has an “under-incarceration” problem, who advocated sending in federal troops to suppress American protests against murders committed by police officers, and who’s never met a war he didn’t like.

Oddly, the answer to Cotton’s first question is yes: Aaron Bushnell grew up in an “extremist” religious organization,  the Community of Jesus. If its timeline on X is any indication, the Community of Jesus is strongly “pro-Israel,” including support for the Gaza holocaust. Bushnell even went on a church-sponsored trip to Israel as a teenager.

As an adult, he left the group and joined another “extremist” organization, the US Air Force … after which he apparently became a “left-anarchist,” arguably a less “extreme” affiliation than either of the others.

Bushnell spent most of his life as a Tom Cotton type extremist (which explains why he was “allowed to serve on active duty”), before somehow acquiring the kind of moral compass Cotton either never possessed or discarded long ago.

America would have been better off losing Tom Cotton than Aaron Bushnell.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

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“Solution” Or Not, There’s Already a Palestinian State

1947 Partition plan for Palestine EN

On February 19, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu bragged that “I am the one who for decades blocked the establishment of a Palestinian state.” On February 21, the Knesset approved a resolution joining Netanyahu with, in his words,  “an overwhelming majority against the attempt to impose on us the establishment of a Palestinian state.”

Apparently someone forgot to inform Netanyahu, and the Knesset, of several inconvenient facts, foremost among them that the state of Palestine was established in 1988,  eight years before his first term as prime minister.

The state of Palestine is recognized by 139 of the 193 United Nations member states (Israel is recognized by 165). It’s recognized as an observer state by the UN itself. It’s a member state of UNESCO, Interpol, and the International Criminal Court.

The state of Palestine generously claims less land than it’s entitled to under United Nations Resolution 181 (it’s willing to settle for a return to pre-1967 truce lines), while Israel occupies quite a bit more than it’s entitled to under that resolution.

UNR 181, by the way, is the international legal instrument which authorized the creation of Israel, which set its only internationally recognized borders, and which Israel agreed to as a condition of UN membership. To the extent that Israel violates UNR 181, Israel abdicates its status as a “legitimate” state.

To be fair, the state of Palestine also defies UNR 181, demanding part of Jerusalem for its capital … as does Israel. Per UNR 181, Jerusalem is supposed to be an “international city,” belonging to neither state and governed under UN auspices.

Whenever there’s talk of a “two-state solution” to the Israeli-Arab conflict in Palestine, Israel and its backers — especially the US — pretend that any “second state” is a proposal for the future, a proposal that can be rejected, temporarily or permanently.

That little bit of propagandizing becomes less and less useful as time goes on. The state of Palestine is not a proposal, it’s a fact. Yes, much of the state of Palestine remains under foreign occupation, but few asserted that Poland and France ceased to exist while under German occupation during World War 2, or that Japan and Germany ceased to exist while under Allied occupation after that war.

I’m skeptical that two states really promise any “solution” to the conflict (I prefer a “no-state solution”), but the opening move toward ANY solution is recognizing reality. Trying to fantasize away the state of Palestine’s existence isn’t going to work.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

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Alabama IVF Ruling: When The Law Has A Personal Problem

Riddle: When is a frozen embryo actually a can of worms?

Answer: When the Alabama Supreme Court issues its ruling in LePage v. Mobile Infirmary Clinic, Inc., allowing the parents of several such embryos, created through in-vitro fertilization, to proceed with a wrongful death lawsuit after those embryos were accidentally destroyed.

You’ve probably heard at least two things about the ruling:

First, that it creates big issues for the continued use of IVF to help parents with fertility problems have children, with clinics fearing litigation or even prosecution if they offer the service.

Second, that the court includes religious sentiments and Bible citations on the santctity of life.

Both of those things are true, but they miss the point. The ruling doesn’t hang on those sentiments or citations. It hangs on the plain text of “black-letter law.” As the opening paragraph of the ruling’s “Analysis” section notes:

“The parties to these cases have raised many difficult questions, including ones about the ethical status of extrauterine children, the application of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution to such children, and the public-policy implications of treating extrauterine children as human beings. But the Court today need not address these questions because, as explained below, the relevant statutory text is clear.”

The justices’ hands were tied. The law said what it said, the law meant what it meant, and their job was to uphold it, not rewrite it or create exceptions to it: “Judges are required to conform our rulings ‘to the expressions of the legislature, to the letter of the statute,’ and to the Constitution , ‘without indulging a speculation, either upon the impolicy, or the hardship , of the law.'”

What — who — is a “person” or “child” deserving of particular rights and protections?

As a philosophical topic, that question quickly becomes interesting and highly debatable.

As a political and legal question, it’s likewise highly debatable and any answer produces controversial consequences.

LePage v. Mobile Infirmary Clinic, Inc. ain’t the first judicial rodeo on that question.

In Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decided to cut the baby in half — or, actually, in thirds — Solomon-style, allowing abortion on demand in the first trimester, regulation in the second, and prohibition in the third. It reversed that framing in Dobbs v. Jackson, leading inevitably to the current case.

But let’s look a lot further back to see how contentious the question is. Try this one on:

“[Black people were] a subordinate and inferior class of beings, who had been subjugated by the dominant race, and, whether emancipated or not, yet remained subject to their authority, and had no rights or privileges but such as those who held the power and the Government might choose to grant them.”

That’s from the Supreme Court’s 1857 ruling in Dred Scott v. Sandford, a ruling which was only subsequently and slowly modified.

Tough questions create hard cases, which in turn make for bad law — which then gets dropped in front of courts to make sense of … if they can.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

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