Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Enough

So. Virginia Tech.

I feel a little bullshitty first world, middle class problemy posting about my angst yesterday during the aftermath of the shooting. I have to say I really couldn't process what was happening yesterday and in some ways I still can't.

There are no words for how horrible this situation is--I was watching CNN and the reporter said that as they brought out the bodies cell phones kept ringing and buzzing as families members frantically tried to reach the deceased.

I don't know how people recover from that.

What is overshadowing what should be a country mourning a tragedy is the blatant racism coming out of this.

Let us get this straight, this man did not shoot those people because he is Korean. It has nothing to do with his immigration status, this is not Angry Asian Man Syndrome. This is a sick person with a motive that we do not know yet.

My friend L and I talked about this a lot today. She was worried how people would percieve her family after this. If they would be treated like Muslims after 9/11? Being part of a minority means that you get to wince when some one from your group is accused of a crime. Especially if that crime re-enforces stereotypes. I just hated when Jack Abrahoff was in the news because I knew that the money-grubbing Jew jokes would start.

Ever notice that despite the fact that most shootings of this nature are committed by white men their race isn't discussed. If a white man did this we would be talking about how this is from heavy metal music or some other bullshit. If he were white white students would not be concerned about violence against them and leaving campus. If he were a Russian immigrant RUSSIA WOULD NOT APOLOGIZE FOR HIS ACTIONS.

Do we see the bullshit here?

Since converting to Judaism I now see the white privilege that I have lived (and still do) in. I am a nice average looking white woman with blond hair. No one checks their locks when I walk by, no one reflexively holds their handbag tighter, people do not assume I am really great at math. This is how it should be for everyone. But we all know that it isn't. We all have prejudices built into our behaviors. And the challenge for us all, individually and collectively, is to admit that and call ourselves on it. To try to change our behavior.

This is not about political correctness, which I believe is a myth (seriously, people always talk about how people aren't short but vertically challenged but have you EVER heard some one really demand you use that term). This is about using words that are respectful. This is about not making assumptions about some one's character based on their appearance. We have taken care of the outward institutionalized stuff in this country--we are desegregated, we have laws against discrimination--but we need to embrace the attitudes that the country was built on. "I'm not politically correct" is the siren call of the asshole. It is an excuse to be rude, to hurt people, to offend and it blames the victim. And I am tired of it. It is the exaggerated equivalent of calling a guy named James "Jimmy" even though you know he hates it. It infantilizes him, it makes him feel powerless and it makes you a piece of shit. Humiliating those who cannot defend themselves is easy.

I have not spoken up when people say these things in front of me. I didn't want to appear too sensitive or be accused of being politically correct and BULLSHIT. I shouldn't care about that. And I won't. It's not censorship to explain to people they are offensive, it's not wrong to do what you can to make it stop.

This man did a horrible thing and irreparable damage. He destroyed families and a university and our sense of security. Hold him responsible. And honor those who died by not blaming his race but in remembering the victims.

2 comments:

Frank said...

The shooter lives just one county over so we get the local as well as national coverage. I haven't heard anything relative to his race arounf here other than they mention he was Korean and moved here when he was young. It seems more about how he was a loner and, as revealed through his writings, quite disturbed. It is indeed very sad and tragic.

Linda said...

dayam. excellent post, girl.