Martyr or terrorist?

Malachi RitscherI previously wrote about Malachi Ritscher, who lit himself on fire and died as an act of protest against the war in Iraq. The sad part is that no one has heard about it. Only time will tell whether the blogosphere takes his self-immolating act and runs with it on the heels of “martyrdom.” Richard Roeper, a Chicago Sun-Times columnist, calls his “last gesture on the planet” his “saddest and his most futile.” What’s disconcerting is that he wants to spread a message of peace and end the war in Iraq, however, he names his only regret as not killing Donald Rumsfeld at a supposed prime opportunity. In his mind, the trade-off was valuable: Murdering the former Secretary of Defense in exchange for somehow saving the lives of thousands of U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians. (As much as I didn’t care for Mr. Rumsfeld, I’m keen enough to realize that killing him is not a solution to end the war in Iraq.) Which has prompted discussion on Ritscher’s mental state and his depiction as a supposed martyr. Personally, I think he definitely exhibited psychotic features in his actions, his words and unfortunately, his death. No doubt this man had a mental illness of some kind. The lesson that should be learned from his death is not awareness about the deaths from the war in Iraq but a renewed attempt  at understanding  mental illness with psychotic features.

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1 Comment

  1. Stein said,

    December 16, 2006 at 8:23 pm

    We’ve hosted discussions several times on our Chicago-based blog on the question, “Was Malachi Ritscher crazy?” A new one is starting now (Sat. night, 12-16-06). While I never got to know Malachi, I spoke with him a few times on the phone. After his friends in Chicago realized it was he who had burned himself to death, people here have had some time to ponder all this. I think that questioning his mental state is the wrong question to be asking. We should be focused on the war. We should be telling people, “A man burned himself to death to protest the war.” That’s what matters. Feel free to click the link, go to our blog, and post comments on this important issue.


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