The Strange Death of Malachi Ritscher…

I came across the following news item on Harpers.org -
To protest the Iraq war, a man named Malachi Ritscher committed suicide in Chicago by setting himself on fire next to a 25-foot-tall sculpture called “Flame of the Millennium.” Along with a self-penned obituary, the 52-year-old Ritscher posted a farewell message on his website in which he described the “deep shame” of a day in 2002 when he stood, knife in hand, next to Donald Rumsfeld, but was unable to bring himself to slash the defense secretary’s throat. “I too love God and country,” wrote Ritscher, “and feel called upon to serve.”

After googling around a bit – I found Malachi’s farewell note. You can, if you’re so inclined, read the whole thing right here. For the less adventurous, here are some excerpts:

My actions should be self-explanatory, and since in our self-obsessed culture words seldom match the deed, writing a mission statement would seem questionable. So judge me by my actions…

Our so-called leaders are the real terrorists in the world today, responsible for more deaths than Osama bin Laden…

When I hear about our young men and women who are sent off to war in the name of God and Country, and who give up their lives for no rational cause at all, my heart is crushed. What has happened to my country? we have become worse than the imagined enemy – killing civilians and calling it ‘collateral damage’, torturing and trampling human rights inside and outside our own borders, violating our own Constitution whenever it seems convenient, lying and stealing right and left, more concerned with sports on television and ring-tones on cell-phones than the future of the world…. half the population is taking medication because they cannot face the daily stress of living in the richest nation in the world…

I too love God and Country, and feel called upon to serve. I can only hope my sacrifice is worth more than those brave lives thrown away when we attacked an Arab nation under the deception of ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’. Our interference completely destroyed that country, and destabilized the entire region. Everyone who pays taxes has blood on their hands.

I have had one previous opportunity to serve my country in a meaningful way – at 8:05 one morning in 2002 I passed Donald Rumsfeld on Delaware Avenue and I was acutely aware that slashing his throat would spare the lives of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of innocent people. I had a knife clenched in my hand, and there were no bodyguards visible; to my deep shame I hesitated, and the moment was past.

The violent turmoil initiated by the United States military invasion of Iraq will beget future centuries of slaughter, if the human race lasts that long. First we spit on the United Nations, then we expect them to clean up our mess. Our elected representatives are supposed to find diplomatic and benevolent solutions to these situations. Anyone can lash out and retaliate, that is not leadership or vision. Where is the wisdom and honor of the people we delegate our trust to?

To the rest of the world we are cowards – demanding Iraq to disarm, and after they comply, we attack with remote-control high-tech video-game weapons. And then lie about our reasons for invading. We the people bear complete responsibility for all that will follow, and it won’t be pretty…

Our leaders are not wise persons with integrity and vision – they are actors reading from teleprompters, whose highest goal is to stir up the mob. Our country slaughters Arabs, abandons New Orleaneans, and ignores the dieing environment. Our economy is a house of cards, as hollow and fragile as our reputation around the world. We as a nation face the abyss of our own design.”

Malachi was an activist, a jazz musician, a sound engineer, and a member of Mensa. His license plates were named after his favorite studio microphones. Once, he had been a minister.

Well.

So it goes.

You can also find more to read here.