The massacre at Virginia Tech has opened up a lot of old wounds. I remember where I was when I first heard about the school shootings in Colorado. April 20, 1999. I just got off the bus and walked into a guitar store for lessons and on the TV was news of a shooting. Even at the guitar store, they blamed the murders on rock music. With Virginia Tech, I was at work. Both times the US was at war. In 1999 it was the former Yugoslavia, in 2007 it was Iraq and Afghanistan.
Brazilian cartoonist Latuff acurately describes the contradictions in the public and media reaction to the shootings. “What if Cho Seung-Hui joined the US Marines and all of his victims were Iraqi? Would he be called a murderer or a hero?” Readers of the Chicago Tribune soon saw the answer.
Allen Lee, a student at Cary-Grove High School wrote an essay describing himself going on a shooting spree and having sex with the dead bodies. He was promptly suspended from classes and had disorderly conduct charges brought against him. More disturbing than the essay was his career choice. Allen and his friend Jamie Emling both planned on entering the military after high school. The Chicago Tribune was flooded with letters defending the students, saying that the assignment was to vague, that teachers and administrators were being to sensitive and that the students were no threat, after all, they were going to be protecting our country.
Eventually the school dropped the charges, and the students were allowed to graduate. I hope we don't hear about US soldiers raping dead Iraqi's. This Iraq war has already produced enough monsters in uniform. From the massacre at Haditha, to the torture at Abu Ghraib, to the rapes US soldiers have committed.
At Virginia Tech, connecting the dots between the violence our government commits and the isolated violence of lone nuts didn't seem to be a priority. Their commencement speaker after the shooting? General John Abizaid, who was in command of Iraq.