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Act by 'martyr' to protest war in Iraq a futile gesture ('JUST DAMN' ALERT)
Chicago Sun-Times "The Bright One" ^ | November 9, 2006 | RICHARD DOPEY ROEPER Sun-Times Columnist

Posted on 11/09/2006 4:03:16 AM PST by Chi-townChief

According to some who knew the man who set himself on fire along the Kennedy Expressway last Friday, it wasn't a suicide. They're calling it the act of a martyr.

The man who doused himself with gasoline and lit himself near a 25-foot-tall sculpture titled "Flame of the Millennium" was Malachi Ritscher, 52, a local musician and anti-war activist.

The medical examiner ID'd Ritscher on Wednesday through medical records. Friends were already convinced it was him. One admirer of Ritscher sent me an e-mail with the Subject Header: "It was Martrydom, Not Mental Illness."

"Do you remember the Buddhist monks who publicly burned themselves in Saigon to make an anti-war statement during the Vietnam War?" he wrote. "Something similar happened in Chicago ... [The] man who set himself aflame ... [was making] a powerful anti-war statement ... delivered just as America was making an important electoral decision about the war in Iraq.

"Not all people who kill themselves are mentally ill. Most major religious traditions, including Buddhism and Christianity, teach that death is something to be welcomed. And death in the service of a greater cause, like peace, makes you a martyr, not mentally ill."

I'm not so sure the two things are mutually exclusive.

Remembering the man Ritscher apparently penned his own obituary and posted it on his Web site. In the third person, he says he was born Mark David Ritscher in Dickensen, N.D. in 1954. He moved to Chicago in the early 1980s and changed his name to Malachi. "He was the modern-day version of the 'renaissance man,' except instead of attaining success in several fields, he consistently failed, and didn't worry too much about it," says the obit, which mentions a number of Ritscher's interests and activities, including jazz, photography, poetry, painting watercolors, concocting a hot sauce recipe, working as a licensed stationary engineer and collecting everything from books to knives to glass eyes.

"[Ritscher] participated passionately in the anti-war and free speech movement," says the obit. "He was arrested at a protest on March 20, 2003, and spent the night in jail ..."

There's also mention of a son "from whom he was estranged," and two grandchildren.

Parting words In addition to the obit, Ritscher left a long farewell note on his Web site. "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," he wrote.

"So judge me by my actions. Maybe some will be scared enough to wake from their walking dream state -- am I therefore a martyr or a terrorist? I would prefer to be thought of as a 'spiritual warrior.' 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?

"I too love God and country, and feel called upon to serve ..."

Ritscher describes an incident in 2002 in which he claims to have had a knife as he passed within close range of Donald Rumsfeld. To his "deep shame," he didn't attack. There is also discussion of God's role in the universe, the two-party system, and the Bush administration. Throughout he comes across as intelligent, passionate, bitter, angry, disoriented -- and disturbed.

Brendan Burke was a friend of Ritscher's.

"Malachi was an incredible and gentle soul," Burke said in an e-mail to me. "He was very well known in the jazz community in Chicago. He was completely dedicated to preserving a record of the Chicago avant-garde jazz scene. He would show up at jazz shows at the Empty Bottle or other venues and set up his mobile recording rig, once or twice a week, every week ... Malachi would drop off a recording [with the artist, but] he'd never take any money. He just wanted this music to be documented, and he recorded thousands of shows.

"We know Malachi was deeply committed to the anti-war movement, but he had also suffered from depression and other difficulties from time to time. We'll all miss him terribly and are really at a loss right now."

My sincere sympathies to all who knew Ritscher. But with all great respect, if he thought setting himself on fire and ending his life in Chicago would change anyone's mind about the war in Iraq, his last gesture on this planet was his saddest and his most futile.

May he find peace now.

mailto:rroeper@suntimes.com


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: burnedup; lefty; rat; stuckonstupid; wot
It sounds like the war on terror just burned him up!
1 posted on 11/09/2006 4:03:21 AM PST by Chi-townChief
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To: Chi-townChief

"May he find peace now"

A nice sentiment, but given that Roeper has tried to put Buddhist fatalism with Christian hope on the same level, I think that the man in question now finds his circumstances have not cooled off.


2 posted on 11/09/2006 4:07:41 AM PST by BelegStrongbow (www.stjosephssanford.org: Ecce Pactum, id cape aut id relinque)
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To: Chi-townChief

Silly bugger.

Any chance of this catching on? (Perhaps mention to Sindy a similar act will get her on TV???)


3 posted on 11/09/2006 4:08:31 AM PST by Aussie Dasher (The Great Ronald Reagan & John Paul II - Heaven's Dream Team!)
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To: All
ARTICLE SNIPPET:

"Ritscher describes an incident in 2002 in which he claims to have had a knife as he passed within close range of Donald Rumsfeld. To his "deep shame," he didn't attack. There is also discussion of God's role in the universe, the two-party system, and the Bush administration. Throughout he comes across as intelligent, passionate, bitter, angry, disoriented -- and disturbed. Brendan Burke was a friend of Ritscher's. "Malachi was an incredible and gentle soul," Burke said in an e-mail to me."

4 posted on 11/09/2006 4:08:50 AM PST by Cindy
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To: Chi-townChief

Crazed vanity, to suppose that anyone is going to take a look at his burning corpse and say, "Oh, this has just inspired me: let's stop all that icky fighting over there in Iraq and instead pursue Peace Studies."


5 posted on 11/09/2006 4:09:11 AM PST by Fairview
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To: Chi-townChief
My sincere sympathies to all who knew Ritscher. But with all great respect, if he thought setting himself on fire and ending his life in Chicago would change anyone's mind about the war in Iraq, his last gesture on this planet was his saddest and his most futile.

Er, with the shift of political wind, something like this could be, excuse the pun, fanned into the flame of an icon.

6 posted on 11/09/2006 4:10:27 AM PST by HiTech RedNeck
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To: Chi-townChief

It wasn't the heat, it was the stupidity, that killed him...


7 posted on 11/09/2006 4:11:13 AM PST by FDNYRHEROES (Always bring a liberal to a gunfight)
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To: Chi-townChief
"Do you remember the Buddhist monks who publicly burned themselves in Saigon to make an anti-war statement during the Vietnam War?" he wrote.

Um thanks for all that but the monk that burned himself was protesting the treatment of the monks by the south vietnamese government. They were not treated as well as the christians.

8 posted on 11/09/2006 4:14:37 AM PST by bad company ([link:www.truthout.org/docs_2006/083006J.shtml | The Path to 9/11])
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To: Chi-townChief

Let me get this straight. He's an anti-war activist. The anti-war party just won a major election. His reaction to that victory is to BBQ himself.

Maybe his friends didn't know him as well as they thought they did. Maybe he was a PRO-war activist, upset that Pelosi and Reid were now in charge of congress.


9 posted on 11/09/2006 4:16:14 AM PST by samtheman
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To: bad company

http://burningmonk.gnn.tv/blogs/5516/Thich_Quang_Duc_The_Burning_Monk

Here's a link.


10 posted on 11/09/2006 4:17:14 AM PST by bad company ([link:www.truthout.org/docs_2006/083006J.shtml | The Path to 9/11])
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To: Chi-townChief

I wonder if he voted first.......


11 posted on 11/09/2006 4:17:47 AM PST by rightwingextremist1776
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To: samtheman

Actually, he cooked his own goose last Friday.


12 posted on 11/09/2006 4:17:53 AM PST by Chi-townChief
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To: FDNYRHEROES

LOL - man, wish I thought of that one!!


13 posted on 11/09/2006 4:18:31 AM PST by Chi-townChief
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To: Cindy

" . . . he claims to have had a knife as he passed within close range of Donald Rumsfeld. To his "deep shame," he didn't attack."

Another hate-filled looney gone from the planet. No loss.


14 posted on 11/09/2006 4:21:19 AM PST by Old Grumpy
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To: bad company

How dare you question popular "history" with facts! Just who do you think you are!


15 posted on 11/09/2006 4:23:05 AM PST by Roccus (Dealing with Politicians IS the War on Terror.)
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To: Chi-townChief

KFA. Kentucky Fried Activist.


16 posted on 11/09/2006 4:23:29 AM PST by samtheman
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To: Chi-townChief

What a fargin idiot.


17 posted on 11/09/2006 4:24:25 AM PST by Toby06 (jon carry is a piece of s#it)
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To: Chi-townChief
It was also done right outside
Robert McNamara's Pentagon office in 1965...

18 posted on 11/09/2006 4:25:54 AM PST by oh8eleven (RVN '67-'68)
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To: Chi-townChief

If only he had the courage to "come out of the closet" he would not have killed himself.


19 posted on 11/09/2006 4:31:12 AM PST by Alouette (Psalms of the Day: 88-89)
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To: Chi-townChief

Hey, maybe it will catch on.


20 posted on 11/09/2006 4:33:48 AM PST by TADSLOS (Mohammed was the L. Ron Hubbard of his time.)
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To: Chi-townChief
"The man who doused himself with gasoline and lit himself near a 25-foot-tall sculpture titled "Flame of the Millennium" was Malachi Ritscher, 52, a local musician and anti-war activist."

Well, that's one less Demo vote next election.

I encourage other Lefties to follow Malachi's lead.

21 posted on 11/09/2006 4:37:44 AM PST by albee (The best thing you can do for the poor is.....not be one of them. - Eric Hoffer)
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To: Old Grumpy

"Another hate-filled looney..."

Yep.


22 posted on 11/09/2006 4:38:09 AM PST by Cindy
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To: Chi-townChief

Red Foreman had a name for people like this, DUMBASS!!!


23 posted on 11/09/2006 4:40:45 AM PST by Americanexpat (A strong democracy through citizen oversight.)
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To: Chi-townChief

Bravo! Burn in Hell!


24 posted on 11/09/2006 4:42:02 AM PST by YOUGOTIT
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To: Chi-townChief
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.

How ironic!
25 posted on 11/09/2006 4:51:40 AM PST by loboinok (Gun control is hitting what you aim at!)
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To: Chi-townChief

Here's your sign!


26 posted on 11/09/2006 4:53:05 AM PST by ABG(anybody but Gore) ("By the time I'm finished with you, you're gonna wish you felt this good again" - Jack Bauer)
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To: Chi-townChief
"Malachi Ritscher, 52, a local musician and anti-war activist" as well as a flaming asshole.
27 posted on 11/09/2006 4:56:16 AM PST by verity (Muhammed is a Dirt Bag)
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To: Chi-townChief

Just DARN!
Somebody had a barbecue, and didn't invite me! :)


28 posted on 11/09/2006 4:59:14 AM PST by TexConfederate1861 ("Having a picture of John Wayne doesn't make you a Texan :) ")
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To: samtheman

He did this before the election. The joke's on him.


29 posted on 11/09/2006 5:00:16 AM PST by rabidralph
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To: Cindy

Yep. Only among leftists can those wielding a knife and contemplating murder be described as "a gentle soul."


30 posted on 11/09/2006 5:04:10 AM PST by Ghost of Philip Marlowe (Liberals are blind. They are the dupes of Leftists who know exactly what they're doing.)
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To: Chi-townChief

Just a little bit of modern-day performance art. :)


31 posted on 11/09/2006 5:05:14 AM PST by Pan_Yans Wife
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To: Chi-townChief

""Malachi was an incredible and gentle soul,""

And thats why he chose to set himself on fire? I pray we don't have to many more of these 'gentle souls'.


32 posted on 11/09/2006 5:06:08 AM PST by driftdiver
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To: bad company

Ya know, I've been thinking about this. Now chances are this individual would still have offed himself one way or another. But do you think he would have chosen this particular method if he had not been indoctrinated with that lie that today passes for "history"?


33 posted on 11/09/2006 5:06:38 AM PST by Roccus (Dealing with Politicians IS the War on Terror.)
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To: Chi-townChief

Burn in life. Burn in hell too?


34 posted on 11/09/2006 5:08:04 AM PST by the_daug
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To: Chi-townChief

I'm inspired. I want to do the same thing in order to make my views clear. Now I just need to find an anti-war activist to set on fire....


35 posted on 11/09/2006 5:10:15 AM PST by SlowBoat407 (A living insult to islam since 1959)
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To: Chi-townChief

Perhaps we could persuade some Congressional Republican leaders, those who've led the big-government spending spree, to emulate the immolate?


36 posted on 11/09/2006 5:14:02 AM PST by WarEagle (Karl Rove did it....)
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To: Chi-townChief
There's also mention of a son "from whom he was estranged," and two grandchildren.

Damn, disqualified from a Darwin.

37 posted on 11/09/2006 5:14:54 AM PST by Alouette (Psalms of the Day: 88-89)
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To: Toby06
Shame, the world has lost quite an artist. In addition to music he worked in a variety of media. Here is his bust of Elvis made out of macaroni.

I kid you not.

38 posted on 11/09/2006 5:16:18 AM PST by Tijeras_Slim (Dancing through life like a street mime with tourettes syndrome.)
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To: Chi-townChief

Just a dead psycho crispy critter for his cause and no one cares


39 posted on 11/09/2006 5:16:31 AM PST by dforest (be careful you don't become what you hate the most)
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To: SlowBoat407
Thanks for cleaning me up!!!

Sincerely, THE GENE POOL

40 posted on 11/09/2006 5:17:08 AM PST by bevlar (God must love stupid people; He made so many of them!!!!)
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To: Tijeras_Slim

Your tagline caused a few chuckles over here. Good one.

WFTIIWME?


41 posted on 11/09/2006 5:36:41 AM PST by Toby06 (jon carry is a piece of s#it)
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To: Aussie Dasher
Any chance of this catching on?

LOL! If all the farthest left loonies burned themselves up...

42 posted on 11/09/2006 5:54:24 AM PST by JimRed ("Hey, hey, Teddy K., how many girls did you drown today?" (Hello, I'm a TAGLINE virus. Please help m)
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To: Chi-townChief

One down, thousands more needed

He was mentally ill. No amount of sympathy otherwise will change the fact he was ill and his knowing friends let him down.


43 posted on 11/09/2006 5:57:45 AM PST by bert (K.E. N.P. Rozerem commercials give me nightmares)
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To: Roccus
But do you think he would have chosen this particular method if he had not been indoctrinated with that lie that today passes for "history"?

Nope. It would seem that stupid can be very painful.

44 posted on 11/09/2006 11:25:20 AM PST by bad company ([link:www.truthout.org/docs_2006/083006J.shtml | The Path to 9/11])
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To: bevlar
" Thanks for cleaning me up!!! Sincerely, THE GENE POOL

That is a really good one, a "keeper"!

Hope you don't mind if I use it at the next appropriate opportunity.

45 posted on 11/09/2006 4:30:27 PM PST by albee (The best thing you can do for the poor is.....not be one of them. - Eric Hoffer)
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To: albee

No...problem...use my gene pool quote when ever it can be used.


46 posted on 11/09/2006 4:47:36 PM PST by bevlar (God must love stupid people; He made so many of them!!!!)
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