Apr 28, 2007

Your first mistake: "Seeking to understand Seung-Hui Cho" [LINK]

A letter to the Boston Globe that appeared on April 25:

What role did race have in Seung-Hui Cho's social exile? Like Cho, I am an immigrant from East Asia. We both came to the United States at age 8. We seem to share the quiet temperament stereotypical of new immigrants. We probably even look somewhat alike to many. But an important difference is that I am not angry, even though I too was teased and treated unfairly. Minorities in this country face social stressors not encountered by the majority, and I wonder how many nurse resentment that is waiting to explode with the right genetic predisposition.

I recall that in school students segregated into their own social cliques by race. Despite celebrations of diversity, there were still the white, black, and yellow locker areas. More recently, I stepped into a bar and realized that Caucasians congregated upstairs while Asian patrons chose the basement. An Asian friend admitted that she "just felt more comfortable downstairs."

Today, youths live in multiple Americas. It is time to reexamine how we embrace our differences in our communities and concentrate instead on integration. Racial backlash should not be a concern if we are all Americans.

I don't think I ever liked this sort of thing, and now I'm sure. No, it is not time to reexamine a damned thing about racial integration. Seung-Hui Cho did not go on a killing spree because he was in any way deprived of a chance to eat and hang out next to whites. Is it possible to have a screw loose without it being somebody else's fault? Seung-Hui Cho was offered every chance to climb out of his hole. People said hello and were nice to him, and he didn't respond. More than accommodating, Virginia Tech kept him around a lot longer than was wise.

You could almost hear the tapes rewinding after the story broke. First it was the gun nuts on both sides, now it's race. This is tiresome. Stop trying to understand what made this guy tick. You will never get close. Stop trying to relate to him. The time for that is long past.

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