An On-Air Horror in Virginia
This morning, 'come and take them' has a terrible new meaning
An awful coincidence this morning: When the news flashes came across about the shooting deaths of a TV reporter and photographer near Roanoke, Va., I was doing some research into a phrase I hadn’t heard until last night—“molon labe.”
A friend of mine introduced me to it after some online run-ins with members of the Oath Keepers, a so-called “patriot” organization that most recently showed their faces, and their assault weapons, for the demonstrations marking the first anniversary of the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Mo. It’s a Greek phrase, supposedly expressed by King Leonidas I when the Persian army demanded the Spartans lay down their weapons at the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 B.C. In recent years, it’s become a rallying cry for right-wing militia groups and sympathizers convinced that the U.S. government is trying, or will soon try, to take their guns from them.
Translated, “molon labe” means “come and take them.”
This morning, a reporter named Alison Parker and a photographer named Adam Ward, of WDBJ7 in Roanoke, were interviewing Vicki Gardner, the head of a local Chamber of Commerce, at a lakeside shopping center when a man with a gun shot all three of them. Parker, 24, and Ward, 27, are dead; Gardner was shot in the back and hospitalized.
It’s obvious this morning who came and took what from whom. This kind of thing has become the “new normal,” as we’re reminded of on a near-weekly basis, and it shows no sign of ending, which makes it all the more obscene when self-appointed defenders of an imaginary empire take to the streets to yell Greek at an imaginary enemy. Keep the two slain in your thoughts and prayers, even though it’s too late for them, and perhaps for us.