Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Virginia Tech and the Asian Other

I wrote something yesterday and deleted it. But I shouldn't have, so here it is again, with more flesh on the bones.

Here is a decent, but expectedly narrow sighted WP article with the latest updates. (yea, blame it on CounterStrike). Here is an interesting Post opinion piece by Marc Fisher that takes a step back and gives you a better view of the coverage.

It is sad and tragic, but things happens sometimes and you can't do anything about it. Ok, that 2 hour gap between shootings is problematic, but this is not about gun control or a weird Asian presence in our middle American midst.

Gun control: the 2nd amendment is there for a reason and this kid bought the gun legally. The mayor of Nagasaki (Japan, if you're geographically illiterate) got shot the other day. A mayor. In Japan. They have strict gun laws. Also, have you noticed how communist countries don't allow its people to have guns? What would Tiananmen Square have looked like if the students were armed?

Weird Asian Foreigner angle: you heard this with the initial reports. (CNN: 'Gunman: What Nationality?'). You're hearing more of this now (see: WP article above). But this kid wasn't some non-integrated recent immigrant.

He was a senior English major. He went to Westfields HS and lived in Centreville - in our home county in the States. He got his green card renewed in 2003. If you don't know, they have 10 year expiration terms; so that would place him in the States in 1993, if not earlier. The kid was 9 years old in 1993.

He's basically an American without the passport. If you carry a South Korean passport, perhaps you don't really need an American passport.

This is an American tragedy created by a kid who grew up as an American. To spin it otherwise, to hang it on those Asians Others is a sham and a shame.

A friend of mine was murdered in a shooting rampage on my college campus a long time ago, nearly a decade before even Columbine. I even met the shooter months before it happened and I didn't like the guy then. Yes, that kid was Asian American too. Our alumni association even sent an email the other day to recognize our schools' painful shared experience and our association's support of Tech.

There is no sense in the senseless and sometimes there is nothing one can do. You move on by bonding over gallows humor:

White kids shoot people in high school.
Asian kids shoot people in college.
That's cause we believe in higher education.

[Addendum: the Post reports that he came to the States when he was 8. Notice in that report how the writing marginalizes this kid as an exotic other by writing his name per conventional East Coast (of Asia) style, that is Last Name - First Name. Compare this to how they reference Paul Kim and even the kid's sister, as Sun Cho, in the same piece.]


garfield said...

Hi D,

Sorry that my post in here is completely irrelevant to your writing above, yet I just hope you could kindly shed me some light on whether and how you obtained a "the tam tru" for your staying in VN?


Thong said...

You hit the nail right on the head D. Sorry for the useless comment.

chanchow said...

I agree that the Asian angle shouldn't be played up. It could've been a black, white or brown kid. But I do think the issue is, in large part, about gun control. If guns weren't legal and widely availabe, then there would be far fewer gun deaths. Sure, the mayor of Nagasaki was fatally shot, but the fact of the matter is that gun deaths are few and far between in Japan. And while Communist countries do not allow guns, neither to most countries in Europe. The second amendment was put in for a reason, but that doesn't necessarily mean that every alienated college kid in America should be able to get a gun.

D. said...


I have no idea what "the tam tru" is - maybe it's a serious question or maybe you're punking me. If it is the former, let me know what it means and if I know the answer, I'll help ya out.

re gun control: first, it's in the Constitution. So in America, it's an issue about how far you can regulate it. This kid met all the regulations - sure, you may not agree with a 3 day wait, thinking it's too minimal, but at some point more stringent regulation leads to a de facto ban on guns which would make such regs unconstitutional and therefore illegal.

At some point, one needs to step back and realize, like many people have expressed about this tragedy, that if someone wants to kill people and they are not concerned about their own well being (i.e. death or apprehension isn't a concern), then there is very little one can do to stop them. That is reality. See Iraq and suicide bombers. Different motivations, same process. If you can commit murder-suicide in the Green Zone, you can do it anywhere in America (or anywhere else in the world, for that matter). This is the price we pay as social beings.

garfield said...

Ooppss sorry! I thought u could read VNese, basically it's a temporarily residential card issued to foreigners or oversea Vietnamese who work in Vietnam. I know we need a visa to enter VN (only valid for 6mths or something), yet I'm not sure what used for those who stay long-term???

Thanks for your kindness!

D. said...

Folks who stay long term either just get renewals of their visa every 6 months or get that temp resident card you spoke about. I know very few folks who have the temp card - the ones that do are here a decade plus.

The VN government is continuing to press for easier regulations on VKs, but so far laws have been passed but enabling regulations are still not enacted.

garfield said...

Thanks D! have a nice weekend.