LancasterOnline.com: A Solemn Farewell — First Amish girlâ€™s funeral begins two-day process of burying five schoolhouse murder victims in same cemetery. Naomi Ebersol is recalled as a shy child who didnâ€™t want to go to school that day.
I’m glad to see this story include this note at the end — “All of the childrenâ€™s funerals are private and restricted from the public and press. This account was assembled from the writerâ€™s earlier observations, with substantial aid from friends and neighbors of the Ebersols. ” I expect the local newspaper to have this kind of sensitivity to the privacy of the Amish, but sure wish the national media would show the same kind of consideration. It may be more work to do journalism in a respectful way, but it is the right thing to do and it is do-able.
What is staggering to me in this story is how badly the media is behaving in covering this story (the worst example was of a reporter who tried to sneak into a funeral by dressing Amish). Certainly the story needs to be told (and I think the way that Amish follow Jesus’ teachings of nonviolence and reconciliation need to be shared with the world), but the media can do so in a respectful and less intrusive way.
. . . In just about any other community, a deadly school shooting would have brought demands from civic leaders for tighter gun laws and better security, and the victimsâ€™ loved ones would have lashed out at the gunmanâ€™s family or threatened to sue.
But thatâ€™s not the Amish way.
As they struggle with the slayings, the Amish in this Lancaster County village are turning the other cheek, urging forgiveness of the killer and quietly accepting what comes their way as Godâ€™s will.
â€œThey know their children are going to heaven. They know their children are innocent … and they know that they will join them in death,â€ said Gertrude Huntington, a Michigan researcher and expert on children in Amish society.
â€œThe hurt is very great,â€ Huntington said. â€œBut they donâ€™t balance the hurt with hate.â€
. . . The Amish have also been reaching out to the family of the gunman, Charles Carl Roberts IV, 32, who committed suicide during the attack. Dwight Lefever, a Roberts family spokesman, said an Amish neighbor comforted the Roberts family hours after the shooting and extended forgiveness to them.
â€œI hope they stay around here and theyâ€™ll have a lot of friends and a lot of support,â€ Daniel Esh, a 57-year-old Amish artist and woodworker whose three grandnephews were inside the school during the attack, said of the Roberts’ wife and three children.
Huntington, the authority on the Amish, predicted they will be very supportive of the killer and his wife, â€œbecause judgment is in Godâ€™s hands: â€˜Judge not, that ye be not judged.â€™â€