As most everyone with Internet, cable, a radio or a newspaper knows by now – there was a terrible shooting at Virginia Tech University yesterday where a man shot and killed 32 people, injuring 15 others.

What’s quickly coming to light is that the killer was very likely a 25-year-old Chinese man in the US on a student visa.

It’s interesting to me, as this morning when I first heard about the shooting, and well before anything about a Chinese connection had been released, I immediately pictured the Chinese reaction: “Yet another loony shooting people in that overly violent America.”

Everything here, media-wise at least, comes with a bit of hype-and-deflectionism. To see if my thoughts were right, I baited my Chinese wife, by explaining to her what happened and leaving out the fact that the nutjob was ‘Asian’. As expected she was quick to comment that stuff like that was always happening in the US.

I added the shooter was ‘Asian’… she lost her “so typical” momentum.

Now, when it becomes certain that a Chinese national was responsible for ‘the deadliest shooting rampage in American history‘, I am quite curious how it will go down in the media here. At a guess, it’ll either be glossed over, or used to support the idea that America, with its degenerate culture, is quite capable (in only eight short months no less) to pollute an otherwise good Chinese’s mind and turn him into a killer.

Anyone want to put bets on CS taking some of the heat?

No matter how it turns out, the whole thing is going to lead to galvanized gross-misrepresentations of things, stupid comments regarding allowing foreign students into a country, and a good lot of extrapohating.

Still, all the numerous deaths in other parts of the world don’t make for near as good headlines – in the US or in China.

Further reading: Interesting comments happening on the issue over at The Duck.


  1. He wasn’t Chinese. It turns out he was an English major from South Korea, but like you said – so what? I’m sure all of the things you predict are going to happen.

  2. Aside from shock and sadness, I also felt this strange nervousness the entire day as e-mails and links trickled in indicating that the shooter was potentially a Chinese national. Then, when I read that he was actually Korean, I have to admit I felt a little relieved. I know that the ethnicity of the killer doesn’t matter; he’s a killer. Should I feel guilty that I was relieved? Maybe my feelings are all jumbled up and all over the place.

  3. Beijing Newspeak has an interesting article that supports what I was saying about China’s fears (and now ‘sighs of relief.’

    @Sushi: I think that’s the key to all of this. People look for a reason, something to blame, an explanation… but really, all we’ve got is a bunch of dead bodies and a media that couldn’t be happier to have content for the next X hours/days/weeks.

  4. Hey Ryan, I’m the random internet blog reader here. thx for the email reply and applaud you on yet another interesting post. I was actually nodding while reading ur post. My parents, being the loyal Chinese as they are, reacted exactly as you predicted. “oh..The Americans again”. the psyche for such reaction is simple: Catching up the Joneses, and when Joneses fault, you are not sympathetic.

  5. no matter what background he has, he is a killer now.maybe universities need to implement a mental test for uni candidates, and unin students must take it too, also they need to take it as seriously as other addition, universities should hold this mental test annually. some students decide to suicide, but others decide to take others with them. everything goes wild in uni campus.

  6. Anyway, It’s really a bad news for all of us. It’s really necessary take a mental test annually in the university.

  7. Here’s my take: Shit happens.

    Now, I realize that comes off as completely insensitive and I don’t mean it as such, so give me a second to explain.

    The thing is, people get killed, as often as not, by other people. This has been happening for… well, at least as long as I’ve been alive, and I’ve a few History Channel specials that seem to indicate longer.

    Maybe tighter gun laws, better brain screens or a bit more love as a child would have stopped this tragedy, but maybe not. People kill people. Things kill things. It’s cold, it’s brutal, but unlike most tits in Hollywood, it’s 100% natural.

    Obviously the closer to home these things happen, the more it makes us want to do things to stop it (how many of us have thought much about the 200,000 people who’ve been slaughtered – at least as brutally as the VA Tech kids – in Darfur?). The truth us, shit like this is always going to happen. We’re always going to feel helpless and scared that it could happen to us, and in turn we’re always going to react by trying to find a simple solution or cause to solve it or at least explain it.

    In the end: Life can be a big pile of shit, so best to enjoy it if you can.

  8. I don’t like your take. I’ve read other posts of yours that exhibit this bizarre misguided apathy, and have wanted to write something then, but didn’t.

    Shit happens, but it doesn’t always have to happen, and in this case, certainly could have been avoided if Virginia had tighter gun control laws. Virginia is one of the most lenient states in the U.S. in this respect, and it’s completely insane.

    Shit happens, but expressing it that way really is insensitive, and dismissive of other people’s pain. A moment’s reflection on the pain of twenty or thirty pairs of parents, of college students in the prime of their lives, should drive home the magnitude of this tragedy.

  9. Hey Chris, “misguided” is a bit of a misnomer. It’s not apathy at all. It’s acceptance. Of course the parents have my sympathy, just like the parents of the numerous other people that died that day (whom also were in the prime of their lives and also were people I didn’t know from a country I’m not from) have my sympathy.

    However, I refuse to let an isolated incident, that happens to make good headlines, dictate how I feel towards the planet. I refuse to swallow how the government, media, and various NGOs are going to twist this situation to suit their multitude of agendas. All with an empathetic ornateness painting my face and swelling my soul.

    And you’re damn right it’s dismissive. Just as dismissive as I am towards the hurt and pain in this world any other day. Cry for these kids today because protocol, a big heart and CNN tell you to, but were you crying for all the others the day before?

    It’s a tragedy, no doubt, but life is – for all but the lucky few.

  10. i was in Hong Kong for the past few days, watching the aftermath on BBC News 24. i missed the whole “he was chinese” part of the affair, and i’m just reading about it now that i’m back in suzhou, and back online at home.

    so, it turns out he was korean. or should that be korean-american?

    today’s South China Morning Post, which i read in the hotel in HK this morning, had a history of US Uni gun rampages dating back to the 1960’s. Actually, in 1991, a young Chinese student did kill a few people after missing out on an academic award. So, sadly, there was a precedent. But a pity that some parts of the US press jumped to conclusions.

    the Virginia Tech area seems close-knit, and its mixed population is part of its strength, so hopefully the korean community – or overseas students in general – will not become ostracized in the US.

  11. Ryan, I think you completely missed my point. Of course we all dismiss 99.99% of the tragedy that we hear about every day — no one could stay sane if they didn’t. But when you’re writing a blog post, or even a comment to a blog post, about a particular tragic event, I, personally, don’t think it’s appropriate to dismiss it with “shit happens”. Okay, the people killed in this tragedy weren’t friends of family of yours, but you don’t know who’s going to be reading. My nephew works at the cafeteria at Virginia Tech, and could have been a victim. That’s close enough a connection for me to be a bit shaken up.

    Yeah, we all dismiss most of the things we hear about, but I think it’s important to remember that they really do matter. Just because we don’t have the psychic capacity to sympathize with all the suffering in the world doesn’t mean that it’s not important.

    And by the way, I don’t like the implication that I’m crying because the media tells me to. I don’t even watch CNN.

  12. Hey Chris, your comment does bring up an interesting point regarding social responsibility in comments on blog posts. Yet, I’m still not buying it. As much as I have absolutely no intention of hurting the feelings of some random reader who may have been directly affected by the tragedy the other day, I’m not about to curb my thoughts on it out of the risk they might view this.

    Perhaps the problem is more in my lack of definition of “shit happens” and my personal feelings towards that. What you see as dismissive, and causing a large issue full of emotion to be trivial, I see as daoism.

    As an armchair daoist, I truly believe that acceptance of life, in all its shades, is the best way to travel through it. It’s not trivializing, nor is it aggrandizing. It just is.

    As for the CNN thing… it wasn’t a personal attack, more just making a statement of how the media is using this tragedy (as it does with every tragedy) to sell shit.

  13. I know I will get labeled for this but i totally agree with Ryan.

    I am from Denver and i was there during the whole Columbine thing. Oh my God can the media pull the heart strings of John Q. Public.

    I was listening to Jim Lehrer who I really respect the other day and his program too has been whipped up into a media frenzy talking about the signs of a killer and how to predict the next one. What a waste of time.

    Shit does happen and people only care when it happens in their own backyard. Millions have died in Darfur, Liberia, and Rwanda and nobody gives a shit. They beg for help from the US, but no one answers the call. Why? I hope I’m wrong, but people don’t give a shit about other people.

    Lastly, how many American GIs and US Mercenaries have marched into Iraqi schools and people’s homes in the last few years with guns ablazing?

  14. Pingback: Eyes East » Blog Archive » Virginia Tech and China: Nationalizing a tragedy

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