May 15, 2009 at 7:18 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

I did a presentation Wednesday night on a Jewish issue connected to my book Columbine: A True Crime Story, a victim, the killers and the nation’s search for answers.

The Jewish-focused group E-3 Events had three different authors and asked each of them to analyze a passage in their book about Judaism.

My book contains at least a couple relevant passages given that shooter Dylan Klebold was half Jewish. The passage I used was a scene from the “basement tapes” filmed in fellow gunman Eric Harris’ basement:

It is sometime before April 1. Eric will soon be eighteen. He poses, sans shirt, with his shotgun, and carbine on a sling.
“My parents are going to f—ing Passover,” Dylan says.
“You’re Jewish?” Eric asks angrily.
Dylan now seems scared of Eric. Apparently, they had never discussed the issue.
Dylan pans to a window. “You can’t see it, it’s buried there,” he says.
“That’s why it’s called a bunker.”
The camera stops.

The question is, “What does it all mean?”

I argued that the passage shows Eric and Dylan were book smart, but did not have social smarts: They were friends for about four years but never stopped to talk about religion. Also, Columbine wasn’t about killing jocks or preps or Jews or blacks or Hispanics. It was about killing everyone. Eric’s Christian religion, and Dylan’s Jewish religion, has been superceded by killing.


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  1. Never stopped to talk about religion? On page 200 of the 2002 edition of “No Easy Answers”, Brooks writes, “I’m not claiming that Eric and Dylan didn’t have a certain hatred for religion. They did. In fact, we had many discussions about how difficult it could be for a non-Christian at Columbine.” But were you referring to them not having a discussion about each friend’s personal religious orientation, and not religion in general? Maybe Dylan lied about being Jewish in previous converstaions in Eric, and then in the basement tapes, let his guard down and accidentally let it slip out that he was (part) Jewish.

    Also, I read somewhere on the internet that while Judy characterized Eric’s question as angry, some other male person (I think it was like a police investigator or some other sort of detective or professional hired for the investigation) characterized the question as “surprised”. Or maybe Eric’s anger wasn’t at Dylan being Jewish, but at witholding and important peice of information from him. I know that if my best friend didn’t bother to tell me that s/he was a devout Ayn Rand sympathizer I would be angry that s/he didn’t tell me sooner.

    And, didn’t Eric say something like, “Wow, that’s too bad” before Dylan says “You can’t see it, it’s buried there,”. That’s what Judy says in this documentary: at 1:36. Or were you aware of this but just didn’t think it was imporant to write EVERY SINGLE THING each of them said? I understand it is a commercial book aimed at the general public for leisure reading and not a government report and so maybe it is necessary stylistically to omit some dialogue. I’m not criticising you if you choose to omit some dialogue; I just wanted to make sure you knew about what Judy said in that documentary about the basement tapes.

    I have read a recommendation of your book by someone I respect, so I am looking forward to reading your book. It sounds like it will be good.

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