Wednesday, April 18, 2007
'Quiet' South Korean student kills his way into history.
"Oh, great," I thought as it began to emerge that the person responsible for the bloodiest mass shooting in modern American history was Asian. His face will be on every newspaper tomorrow morning, accompanied by lurid, terrifying headlines. He will quite likely be the most famous yellow person in the world - at least for a short while - and it will be for the most vile and tragic reasons.
My sympathies are with the victims' families (and I include the shooter Cho Seung-Hui's own family - who knows what they must be going through right now) but I can't help feeling embarrassed that an Asian person has found global fame for the worst possible reasons. Luckily, the effect on people's perceptions of Chinese people here in Britain will be minimal because our media here has so many positive images of Chinese and Asian people to balance it out, doesn't it? Perhaps not.
Will there be a backlash in the States? Time will tell but I'm interested to hear how Virginia Tech's 1600+ Asian students feel in the aftermath of the shooting.
As a sidenote, it was also interesting to see how UK media handled the news that the shooter was 'Asian'. Over here, that word has been partially 'claimed' by the Indian and Pakistani community and sometimes excludes Chinese or Far Eastern people. To start with, all the UK news channels fell right into line with America and referred to the suspect as Asian, conveniently forgetting that the term is used in a completely different way here. Suddenly it was okay to call us Asian. But then it all got too confusing and some reports started calling the suspect 'Chinese' which is actually less accurate because Cho Seung-Hui was South Korean.
Now that the incident has passed hopefully some measures can be taken not just to increase the security of students but also to help combat the alienation and rage that causes individuals to commit such acts.
Someone ought to tell America that angry, young loners and easily available guns are a very bad combination.