A number of fatal school shootings have recently occurred around the country. The first of these occurred in Colorado and Wisconsin, leaving a scar on their respective communities. The latest and most disturbing of these shootings took place this past Monday in Pennsylvania Dutch Country. Charles C. Roberts IV took an Amish one-room school house hostage, singled out the girls, killed five of them, critically wounded five more and then turned the gun on himself.

Upon hearing of this tragic news, I asked myself why someone would target these people. The only answer is that this was a crime of opportunity. This Amish schoolhouse was in close proximity, unprotected and vulnerable. As police dig deeper into the motives of this deranged man it is beginning to become clear that Roberts had nothing against the Amish of Lancaster County, but that they were merely an outlet for his delusional behavior.

Roberts made a huge mistake when he targeted these Amish. These are some of the most interesting and intriguing people in this country, maybe even the world. They don’t bother anyone – they live simple lives, thriving in their subculture. They farm their fields like it was done when people first came to America, build beautiful furniture and perform many other sacred Old World arts.

I have fond memories of these people and have gone out to Pennsylvania Dutch country ever since I was a little kid. Every time you go there it feels like you’ve traveled back in time 150 years. I remember when I would visit the area several times over a single summer. In the fall before Thanksgiving, my family and I would stock up on those tasty Amish goodies that would make the big feast just perfect. They have some of the best food – apple pie, pickled beets, other veggies and fresh cheeses and meats.

This is a tragedy that these people should not have to deal with. Violence of this magnitude is something that a normal American can barely come to comprehend. For a people like the Amish this is especially difficult thing to come to grips with. Sadistic cruelty like this is something that they have rarely, if ever, come in contact with. Roberts took away part of the future of the Amish. These five girls would have grown up to be important contributing members in the Amish community, but due to the action of this man that will never happen. The Amish choose not to be debased by mainstream American society. We need to honor their choices and shelter them from the depravities of society.

How did no one realize that Roberts was a threat to humanity? Were there no warning signals? The only plausible explanation is that after he heard about the shootings in Colorado and Wisconsin something triggered in his mind showing him it was OK to execute his fantasies.

We need to do something to limit these violent rampages. If it means educating the public on what the little warning signs are of an immanent incidence, then so be it.

Levy can be reached at jlevy@campustimes.org.

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