National embarrassment, national tragedy

Celebrate the hero, please.

He survived the Holocaust, arrested by the Nazis and sent to a concentration camp to die — he survived, instead. He survived the Communists, refusing to bow to demands he join the Communist party in post-war Romania; though a good engineer, his career was short-circuited by his stand on principle. He finally escaped Romania in 1978, emigrated to Israel, and then took a sabbatical to teach engineering at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia. And he stayed on.

Yesterday, on Holocaust Remembrance Day, Liviu Librescu used his own body to jam the doors into his classroom, yelled at his students to leave through the windows, and gave up his life to a depressed kid bent on murder. Prof. Librescu was 76 years old. He was the oldest victim, and a hero.

Survived the Nazis, survived the communists. Died to the excesses of the Second Amendment and a culture that seems to create enough disturbed people to make mass murder a serious problem, not a rare event. Librescu was already a hero. It’s embarrassing he had to rise to heroic actions to protect his students. It’s embarrassing to us that he died the victim of an act of senseless violence.

It’s a national embarrassment. Survived the Nazis. Survived the communists. Killed by an out-of-control student with a gun in the U.S.

It’s a national embarrassment. What are we going to do about it?

12 Responses to National embarrassment, national tragedy

  1. cl dickinson says:

    One more… (& I’ll shut-up) If you don’t have time to read the entire post on aformentioned………….. heres an excerpt:

    “If the Nazi experience teaches anything, it teaches that totalitarian governments will attempt to disarm their subjects ….
    In May 1944, Nazi radio broadcast that 1,400,000 German civilians had been trained in the use of rifles and revolvers to defend the Reich. The New York Times quipped: “It is significant that the guarded statement by the German radio does not admit that civilians have been armed, but merely that they have been instructed in marksmanship and the handling of small arms.”(288) A totalitarian police state would never trust the people with arms. (Note from me……. The NYT seems to have changed their viewpoint a bit didn’t they?)

    Three million Germans were imprisoned for political reasons in the years 1933 to 1945, and tens of thousands were executed. “These numbers reveal the potential for popular resistance in German society–and what happened to it.”(289) The same could be said about the far larger numbers of victims of the Holocaust and the mass killings of unarmed peoples of the countries occupied by the Nazis. Once again, what might have been the course of history had firearm ownership been more prevalent and protected as a constitutional right?

    Such questions have never been discussed in scholarly publications because the Nazi laws, policies, and practices have never been adequately documented. The record establishes that a well-meaning liberal republic would enact a gun control act that would later be highly useful to a dictatorship. That dictatorship could then consolidate its power by massive search and seizure operations against political opponents, under the hysterical ruse that such persons were “Communist” firearm owners. It could enact its own new firearms law, disarming anyone the police deemed “dangerous” and exempting members of the party that controlled the state. It could exploit a tragic shooting of a government official to launch a pogrom, under the guise that Jewish firearm owners were dangerous and must be disarmed. This dictatorship could, generally, disarm the people of the nation it governed and then disarm those of every nation it conquered”.


  2. Ed Darrell says:

    I’m unconvinced that anyone should be carrying guns on college campuses. This case, with 33 dead, doesn’t suggest it’s a good idea at all.

    Are you comparing Bush to Hitler? I wouldn’t make that comparison. And remember, having firearms didn’t save Czechoslovakia, either from the Nazis nor from the communists.

    As it becomes more clear that this shooter got guns due largely to a hole in the current federal law (people ordered by a court for mental treatment for violence are not supposed to be able to legally buy guns, but Virginia takes advantage of a loophole placed in that law that doesn’t require tracking such cases closely enough to prevent the arms sales), it becomes more clear that enforcing our current gun laws might be enough. Of course, that’s politically unpopular among conservatives, to follow the law, which is why the loophole was added and why federal funding is reduced.

    It’s embarrassing that a fellow who survived the Nazis and the Communists was gunned down in America. Probably the answer has more to do with providing adequate mental health services. Gun nuts will find a reason to avoid doing anything, however, comparing people who decry the violence to Hitler, as you do with the link.

    Shame on you.


  3. cl dickinson says:

    “Died to the excesses of the Second Amendment”

    So we should put limits on the 2ed, right? Or maybe…..

    One thing we have learned from history, is that we have never learned anything from history! (cant remember who said it.. but so true


  4. cl dickinson says:

    Sad that he was not allowed to carry a gun. It might, or might not, have made a difference (only God knows)… he may, or may not, have chosen to,…. but he should have had the right .
    On “Gun Control”… They may fool some of the people, some of the time, but they will NEVER fool the jews again (for reference see:
    Jews for the preservation of firearms ownership)


  5. Tara says:

    If this had been a blue eyed blond, what would we all be saying. There are plenty of good law abiding imigrants who legally come to this counrty, why? To seek the same life that the majority of OUR grandparents sought. 99% of us are only a grandparent or great grandparent away from being an imigrant, not to many of us have ancestors who arrived on the Mayflower, and even they were imigrants, and may of them criminals to boot. I work with many legal imigrants, most of which are now US citizans, they are better Americans then many a persons born in this country, and you have no right to think yourself better than they. To say that you are American is your birthright, thank God every day for that, you could have very easily been born somewhere else. I personally who people who have crawled through crap with nothing more than a fleeting hope of obtaining what we did nothing to recieve.
    As far as the 2nd ammendment goes, YOU move to England or Austraila, I personally would like to keep my guns. Most crimes are commited with illegally obtained weapons, by people whos intent is to do you harm, and steal that which you go to work for every day. And if you take away ALL the guns, criminals will use knives, crow bars, what ever is handy. Do not ever be foolish enough to give up your right to protect and defend yourself.


  6. RobW says:

    Other countries such as England and Australia have had similar incidents happen — ONCE — and then acted to keep handguns out of the possession of citizens.

    Actually, in Australia it took five incidents (Hoddle Street, Queen Street, Surry Hills, Strathfield, Port Arthur) over the period of a decade. And the resulting legislation was more about shotguns and rifles than hand-guns (which were already regulated).

    Of course, that’s probably still a better average for us.


  7. Read your response to the Dinesh D’Souza/atheists post on Pharyngula and appreciated it very much. Just wanted to drop a line saying “keep up the great work”. If you want to see a video that shows who I am and what I’m about, you can find it on the homepage of my website,

    Anyway, I agree with P.M. Summer’s assessment of what WILL happen, as opposed to what SHOULD happen. But we desperately need to figure out a way to start de-escalating the small arms race that’s been building up across the United States since the Reagen era.

    Peace and health,



  8. raincoaster says:

    Stronger immigration laws would have kept Romanians out of the country (and did, for decades).


  9. I agree with R. Becker that there probably is no ‘deeper meaning’ to this — or if there is, that it isn’t visible yet — except in one area. Yes, Ed is right, this sort of thing wouldn’t happen without the ready availability of guns. Other countries such as England and Australia have had similar incidents happen — ONCE — and then acted to keep handguns out of the possession of citizens. (Here I’ve actually read arguments that it was gun CONTROL to blame, that if other students had been allowed to be armed… Idiots!)

    P.M. Summer: The shooter is a legal immigrant who came here when he was 8, with his parents. And what Gonzalez will be testifying about is his illegal politicization of the Attorney General’s office. The only relevance immigration has is that he will use this as an excuse — not supported by the facts — for firing a few of the USAttorneys.


  10. Bug Girl says:

    I agree with Becker, to some extent. The embarrassment is how under-treated mental illness is. As I wrote in my blog, most of my students have limited–or no–coverage. The kid was at one of the most stressful times in college, right before graduation.

    He clearly was a strange one, as witness his play (posted on, and his teacher’s comments. (Is it really appropriate, under FERPA, to talk about your students and their mental health issues? Even if they are dead? That seems wrong to me.)

    But yeah, when I read he was a survivor–oh, that hurt. :(


  11. R. Becker says:

    I’m not sure it’s a national embarrassment. A national tragedy, absolutely. But embarrassment? Why? An insane man murdered 33 people. I’ve stopped watching what passes for “coverage” of the tragedy on TV. They have almost nothing new to report hour after hour, and so have taken [the 24 hour news channels] to interviewing an endless parade of talking heads, explaining that it’s Va. Tech’s fault for putting pressure on students, or it’s the college’s fault for not responding faster, or the police’s fault, or the gun lobby’s fault, or the fault of American Society in general, a result of the stigma society attaches to mental health problems or …. well, you get the idea. The list keeps getting longer and longer.

    We need to at least consider the possiblity that there may actually be no larger meaning here, no great lesson to learn. That the tragedy really may be as as meaningless as it seems to be. A crazy person murdered 33 people for no reason any of us are even likely to understand. I understand how desperately the family members of those killed and wounded want to find some meaning in it, something they can understand to make sense of the tragey, and even some larger cause they can assign if not blame, at least responsibility to. I suspect in their circumstances, I would feel the same way. But there may be no larger meaning, no explanation that will ever make sense to anyone.

    Celebrate the heroes, absolutely. Find some evidence of the rationality and nobility of mankind in the midst of senseless tragedy. But I suspect the search for “meaning” in it all, now being pursued at embarassing length by the news channels, is a pointless pursuit.


  12. P.M. Summer says:

    We will demand stronger immigration laws. That’s not what we OUGHT to do, but it’s what we will do. The US Attorney General will make that case this Thursday on Capitol Hill… stronger immigration enforcement (and screening).


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