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.