Pride and Prejudice


I listened to talk radio shows coverage of the massacre, noticing several Korean callers expressing concerns of backlash. On the one hand, any rational person would perceive this kid as an irrational wingnut, his ethnicity irrelevant. Yet I’ll admit my first feeling, upon learning that he was Korean was relief, “Thank goodness he wasn’t Black.” Today I read interviews with Latinos and Arabs, expressing the same sentiments. So I can understand the fears of the Korean community.

That’s the logical response of a minority in this country, knowing by sad experience how fundamental racial bias is in our thinking. The majority of white Americans continue to resist acknowledging that reality. Empathy is a wonderful thing, but until white Americans personally experience racial bias, they just don’t get it. The story of Virginia Tech succeeded Imus. Those stories are related, make no mistake. This kid, whatever his childhood trauma, whatever his brain chemistry, lived in a culture that pointed out to him, on a daily basis, how different, how ‘not normal’ he was. I’m not apologizing for him, just suggesting realities that contributed to his deterioration.

I doubt he was getting much. I’d suspect he may have been a virgin. No friends, unwilling to communicate, how likely is it that Susie Sorority is gonna give him any action? He lives in a co-ed dorm, in a room with 5 or 6 other guys. Their girlfriends are visiting, they’re partying, getting laid, drinking, getting stoned; in short, living the life of an American college student – and he exists in this continuum, continually reminded that he doesn’t fit in. And festers. And resents those who do fit in. (Yeah, he’d get my attention.) And in the final analysis, he was so American. Just another attention whore, with the little press kit he took the time to mail to NBC, between his atrocities…which networks now play ad nauseum, elevating a misfit to cult status. Talk about adding insult to injury, for the families and survivors. Maybe he wasn’t so crazy. Crazy like a fox. He finally found a way to matter, by feeding the beast that is our hunger for news…especially bad news.

Mass murderers in America have been almost exclusively white alienated males with three names. (How about that, so does this kid.) They often attract fan clubs and followers. I remember my shock and shame, discovering the DC snipers were two men of color. For an instant, I tried on a mindset, “Boy, how about that! Now we’ve got some players in the pantheon of villains.” Nope, couldn’t muster any pride, not even a little – just contempt for a punk loser who twisted the mind of an adolescent, blamed others for his inadequacy and terrorized the East Coast.

Ethnic pride creates some curious anomalies. I bet many Jews felt admiration for the notoriety of Meyer Lansky, Dutch Shultz, Bugsy Siegel. They may have been criminals but by golly, they were mensch! Is there any gender identification with infamous female criminals? Do they generate a quiet, “You go, girl!” Does their violent pro-activity somehow empower women? Do gays and lesbians ever identify with homosexual evil-doers, and if so, on what level? They surely feel empathy with victims of homophobia, but what comes up when those of their sexual preference commit criminal acts. Is it shame, is it understanding, is it pride? Just wondering.

Sean Hannity piously expresses grief at the “senseless death of 32 victims” and without taking a breath, segues to “I hope this influences the pending Supreme Court decision on partial birth abortions.” What? Oh, I get it, because life is sacred…all life. But apparently not the life of the shooter, right Sean? Cause you said 32 victims…not 33. Perhaps the Supremes were listening, because they ruled to limit abortion options. I wonder how many right-to-lifers, given God-like prescience, would have happily aborted this bad egg? More than a few, I suspect. So, clearly some lives are more precious than others.

Isn’t that like ‘being a little bit pregnant’?

19 April 2007