killer Cho Seung-hui: Does
he reflect America society?
A Nation Cannot Be Tarred by a Single Killer
Are some people wrongly scapegoating all of American society due to the deranged
acts of single individual at Virginia Tech? According to this op-ed article
from China's state-controlled China Daily, those who
blame American society must realize that such a man could arise anywhere -
By Raymond Zhou
April 19, 2007
- China Daily - Original Article (English)
The shooting rampage
at Virginia Tech shocked the world. My thoughts and prayers are with the
families and the community that suffered this senseless tragedy, and anyone
with even a modicum of human compassion would feel the same.
It's only natural for people to be
curious about the identity of the gunman. But in the quest for truth, there is
a disturbing sign that some are linking the acts of an individual with
As long as the killer didn't represent
any group or harbor any political motive - as seems to have been the case -
then any suggestion that his ethnicity was involved can add insult to injury
and death. Initially, a rumor that the killer was Chinese is indicative of a
troubling trend, both in the United States and China, that
would have us somehow personify an entire community or even an entire nation -
in one person, good or bad.
The ethnicity-based implications of
some American media commentators were not only unprofessional, but insidious.
If he were Chinese, did that mean that Chinese people are intrinsically hostile
toward the United States? Or that an average Chinese would act in such a
In a strange way, this reaction was mirrored
here in China. When news came that the killer was not Chinese, people heaved a
collective sigh of relief. If you analyze the underlying logic o this, it means
that his being Chinese would have incriminated us all. Now that we know he
wasn't, a few would say: "We Chinese would never do a crazy thing like
The truth is that a lone killer could
be of any ethnicity. We have had our share of these loners, including Lu Gang,
who gunned down several of his schoolmates and teachers on an American campus ,
and Ma Jiajue ,
who hacked several of his classmates to death with a machete.
No society, no matter how well-balanced
and harmonious, can be totally free of such people. They can never represent
the society that they live in or that nurtured. To equate them with society at
large would be to impugn innocent people who happen to share traits with the
killer, such as ethnicity or profession. This is guilt by association of the
most untenable kind.
I understand why some resort to such
simplistic reasoning. A tragedy like this is so enormous, that it's hard to
reckon with the cause without embellishing it further. After all, how can one
crazy person mow down so many others … people he probably didn't even know?
While there is no way to totally rid
the world of such elements, there are, I believe, ways to minimize the damage
One is to offer psychological care,
especially for those shut away in a cocoon of their own making, have difficulty
communicating with others and have no outlet for releasing negative energy. In
the United States, postmen are said to be more vulnerable than those in other
professions. In China, college students should receive more counseling.
Sometimes, it's up to their peers to reach out.
Then there's the easy availability of
guns in America. While I fully respect the constitutional right of U.S.
citizens to own guns, we must recognize that in cases like the Virginia Tech
incident, the use of guns was a crucial factor. If the killer didn't have guns,
he would likely have killed far fewer people and could have more easily
constrained by others. It's no exaggeration to say that this was the deadliest
killing spree on an American campus chiefly because he had two legally purchased
We will never live in a world where
everyone is happy, and where all are treated with due respect. That's a utopian
ideal. But we can at least limit gun access so that one person won't be able to
inflict such destruction on a massive scale.