Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Will Virginia Tech 'College Columbine' Massacre Lead to Anti-Asian, Anti-Immigrant Backlash?

The 10,000 School Board Members meeting here in San Francisco for our National School Boards Association or NSBA conference are observing moments of silence and reflection on the horrifying Virginia Tech massacre yesterday morning. But many Asian Americans around the country are already bracing for a potential anti-immigrant or anti-Asian backlash.
The Associated Press reported this morning: "A Virginia Tech senior from South Korea killed at least 30 people locked inside a school building in the deadliest shooting rampage in modern U.S. history, the university and police told a news conference Tuesday... Officers identified the classroom shooter as Cho Seung-Hui, 23, a senior from South Korea who was in the English department at Virginia Tech and lived in a different dorm on campus. Cho committed suicide after the attacks, and there was no indication Tuesday of any motive. “He was a loner, and we’re having difficulty finding information about him,” school spokesman Larry Hincker said."
The 'beware of young Asian male" hysteria is already spreading - see Radical Hapa's recent post - VTU Shooting: Targetting the Asian. Jenn's Excellent Reappropriate Blog gives more of the anti-Asian backlash and info on the killer - a 23-year-old South Korean born permanent resident of the United States since 1992 when he immigrated as an eight-year-old.
Numerous websites and blogs are calling the shooter everything from "foreign looking" to "nerdy Asian guy" to even more racist desciptions.

Although many Asian Americans share the horror of the killings and many of us will be working to help the families of those who were injured or killed, we also have to be supportive of Korean and Korean-American communities. In addition, we should also be supportive of the immigrant communities around the Virginia Tech campus and the region to ensure that our communities and all immigrant communities, in particular, are not blamed for the actions of one person.
Keith Kamisugi of the Equal Justice Society says that we have to monitor the mainstream media closely -
The Asian American Journalists Association yesterday issued a press release urging media covering the tragedy to “avoid using racial identifiers unless there is a compelling or germane reason.”“There is no evidence at this early point that the race or ethnicity of the suspected gunman has anything to do with the incident, and to include such mention serves only to unfairly portray an entire people. The effect of mentioning race can be powerfully harmful. It can subject people to unfair treatment based simply on skin color and heritage,” said the release....AAJA reminded members of the media that the standards of news reporting should be universal and applied equally no matter the platform or medium, including blogs.
AAJA is already taking tremendous criticism nationwide for their efforts to ensure responsible journalism.
It seems to me that the recent killings at Virginia Tech and the upcoming 8th anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre on April 20th both serve as a wake up call to end our culture of violence or what Michael Moore and other media watchers call our 'American Gun Culture' and the growing alienation of many young people in our schools and colleges. Hopefully, after the families have been comforted and supported and we have taken a step back from the media hysteria, we can get back to our work supporting our public schools, including more school counselors, mental health services and social workers, and reinvesting in our communities so that we can prevent any future Columbine or VTech Massacres.


Jarred Wilson said...

So what you are saying is that we should be Orwellian and censor ourselves when describing the gunman because the reality of the situation doesn't fit your Multiculturalist agenda?

Asians must do more to eradicate the culture of anglophobia that allows some to generate such an animus to the majority ethnic community.

Race informs everything that People of Color do.

If this were a white man going to a black campus, would you similarly be calling for protection of vulnerable white minoritie living in black majority areas?

No, you would not.

Anonymous said...

Ouch. Is asking the media to be sensitive of potential consequences stemming from how stories are reported in the news now too much? To be honest, I turned off MSNBC when I heard the ex-cop criminal profiler commenting that access to ammunition had nothing to do with the killings. Tell that to the parents of the dead students. "Asians must do more to eradicate the culture of anglophobia..."?? That's like telling victims of domestic violence that THEY must do more to eradicate the fear of abuse they endure from their controlling partners. Balbir Singh Sodhi's death after 9/11 demonstrates the power of backlash hate (albeit misdirected in his case, the injustice would have been the same if the victim was actually a Muslim). And I refuse to believe the media is exonerated from any responsibility in this matter, being the first to pounce on a story, keep the images looping, and commentary flowing. No one is saying race does not matter- it does. But the unfortunate and incorrect side effect of infusing such emotional commentary with race is often a backlash from the community at large, punishing other members of the same or similar-looking races for the wrong action of only one of them. Perhaps the "majority (and this is debatable) ethnic community" ought to do more to eradicate the culture of such stereotyping, rather than leaving it up to groups such as the NAACP and Al Sharpton to address injustices after they have already occurred.

Anonymous said...

The only reason you care about censoring the media is because you are protecting your People of Color coaltion out of raw tribal loyalty.

I bet you did not complain about CNN repeating the inflammatory "black and poor" mantra during Hurricane Katrina.

I am an internationalist and have lived and worked in Latin America and Asia and I stand by my conviction: Asians need to look within at how they transmit anti-American messages of entitlement and victimhood to their children.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...


Given that the majority of people who commit crimes like the Virginia Tech shooting are WHITE and MALE, what can the white community do to prevent such violence and hatred in their own ranks?

That's how ridiculous your reasoning is.

The shooter's race is probably the least relevant part of this. He could have been any mentally unstable loner who lashed out tragically and there have been PLENTY more white males who have done this in the past, so maybe we should ask how and why American culture teaches young people to solve their problems with violence.

Jarred J Wilson said...

Do you *really* want to go there? Do you *really* want to get into a social scientific study about Crime & Race? Do you think you can handle the truth?

I submit that this is exactly the frank and open discussion we should be having: looking at Crime & Race stats.

If there are racial differences in mean IQ then there are bound to be racial differences in Psychopathy and Anti-Social Behaviour.

Off the top of my head, I can see that the last big public shootings in recent history were committed by (1) Korean immigrant at VT; (2) a Bosnian Muslim immigrant in Utah; and (3) Kimveer Gill, the Indo-Canadian gunman at Montreal's Dawson College.

I am not saying that the gunman's ethnic identity was the driving motivation for this action. What I do know is that ethnicity informs much of what People of Color do. From what I can see his suicide note reflected a resentment of Americans which could be something he learned at home and within his ethnocommunity.

On the other hand, I find the multiculturalist leftist censorship of ethnic identifiers as problematic. If this had been a Euro-American gunman walking around, say, Spellman, these same censors would be rabid right now.

You know I am right: the American discourse on race is dysfunction because of people like you.

Eric Mar said...

Thanks for your postings Jarred and others - I think one of the points the AAJA has been trying to make is that immigrants like Cho are AMERICANS like anyone else. The 32 victims were a mixture of ethnic groups, and likely both immigrants and American born folks. I agree that race and ethnic background are relevant sometimes, but not when they merely serve to whip up racist and sexist stereotypical notions of Asian Americans or other people of color as the mainstream media do often.

spirit2change said...


First let say, your suggestings are true, and if we ever were to deny it it would be like 'ignoring the pink elephant in the living room' kinda situation ;)

I, myself being a muslim-american, have faced the same ideas when I think about the effects that 9/11 has had on us. I mean, yeah we do condemn terror and fanatics using the the Quran (holy book of Islam) to justice their malicious act of violence, but are going to appologize? I honestly don't think so.

I am strongly disagree with Race/ethinicity generalization, i.e. when you generalize a group of people based the actions of few of their members. I believe everyone should be judged fairly: that is induvidually!

Which leads us to another controversial subject:Is it okey to Racial Profile...?

Anonymous said...

I can see why the koreans hid their ethnicity. When WWII was ongoing and the USA was @ war with Japan many japanese americans were sent to live in camps, their homes confiscated and even though it was not a Work camp in germany like the jews, it was the same racial motive. Xenophobia. We were also at war with russia and italy yet none of the italians or russians were ever put into camps. I do think “Korean-Self Destruct” is white washed and fed bull crap on a daily basis. He hates himself for being korean, would you rather be white? In all honesty i don’t think VT shooter was all that insane, his ideas were logical and racism in this country against Asians has never stopped to amaze me. I bet there will even be some pussy ass who replies to this comment with a racial remark. There have been so many times i’ve been in chat rooms and the first thing i hear out of some white boys mouth is racial garbage. If you say that North Carolina has a rigid pc value system thats may be true but what holds on the individuals is completely different. I myself In New York have witnessed countless racist acts against me for being chinese of heritage, here, Texas, California, Seattle, Philadelphia, the list goes on. Where ever I go across america i experience racist remarks towards chinese males. I’ve seen it in the media and am sick and tired of it. Hollywood feeds us bullshit all day long if anything i think he should have went after hollywood thats what i would have done. America has degraded chinese / asian culture since the begining of time. Little subtle hints, such as kitten / dog fried rice, or the cleanliness of asian people. It makes me sick. The constant referrals to some chinese individual in movies ordering take out or barely speaking english constantly refreshes this twisted joke into the mass media. Hollywood is a main player of this crime, male asian men are never shown kissing on the big screen. Look at romeo must die. He should have kissed that woman at the end, instead gives her a hug.. WTF? WAKE UP PEOPLE! what about shanghai KISS! is this an ongoing trend. Asian women are percieved as sexy exotic toys. Now more recently a ban ON CHINESE made products, this racism makes me want to lash out like cho. I can see where his frustration and torment ate away at his sanity. Still that doesn’t give him the right to take away the lives of the innocent. Should have went after south park creators, and people in hollywood who portray asian culture as weak. Those are the real criminals. All across the net i see asian this asian that. Well come fucking get me!