Why I haven’t been watching the coverage of Virginia Tech

It’s not because I find the thought of the 32 people killed too disturbing, it’s because I can’t stand hearing one commentator and survivor after another refer to the mass murder as a “tragedy.” Every time someone calls it a “tragedy,” which is about once every 30 seconds, the message is sent out as clear as daylight that the same thing will happen again. This is because to describe it as a “tragedy” is to remove the fact that it was a crime, an evil act, committed by an enemy of society, a crime that can be prevented in the future only if, unlike at Virginia Tech, we recognize the existence of enemies of society and are prepared to stop them. But if it’s a “tragedy,” then by definition no one did anything wrong. There was no criminal act from which society must be protected. There was just this big blob of misfortune that came falling from the sky. It’s something to be suffered, something to be “healed” of, not something to arm ourselves against and be prepared to use the power of the law and physical force to stop if someone threatens to do the same in the future.

Therefore, to my mind, everyone who refers to this atrocity as a tragedy is complicit in it. And that is why I have taken no interest in the memorial services, the candle-light vigils, the healing sessions, the tv interviews, the cable news commentary. I don’t give a damn about any of that, not because I am indifferent to the crime that Cho Sueng Hui committed, but because I hate it, and I see that by repeatedly calling this devilish deed a tragedy the Virginia Tech community and the American people as a whole have made themselves its passive willing victims. And so I feel no fellow feeling with them in this. They are not behaving like moral and rational beings for whom one can have respect; they are behaving like Eloi, helpless dimwitted creatures who let themselves be eaten alive by predatory monsters.

Imagine that after the attack on Pearl Harbor President Roosevelt had stood before a joint session of Congress and said, “December 7, 1941, a very tragic day for our country.” Imagine that the American people, following Roosevelt’s lead, had all gone around whining about the “tragedy” that had occurred and about how they were seeking to be “healed” of it. Hawaii and the West Coast would today be part of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, and the heirs of Hitler would be the masters of Europe from the Urals to the Hebrides.

- end of initial entry -

Maureen C. writes:

I can’t watch it either for the same reasons and for another one: I can’t stand the sound of the tv announcers’ voices as they, like a pack of hounds, literally bay—not announce—every detail of this story. They have fastened their teeth into the prime cut of the newsroom: “If it bleeds, it leads.” The tv newscasters know that they have guaranteed viewer interest for a few days, and it is embarrassing and disgusting to hear them “revel” in it.

For a few days, the pack of newscasters don’t have to “think” about the loss of the Iraq war and its effect on U.S. safety; they don’t have to “think” about the lack of U.S. border security; they don’t have to “think” about the internal havoc caused by unrestrained immigration; they don’t have to “think” about the U.S. national debt (owned by China), or about the decline in value of the dollar, or the rising gas prices; they don’t have to “think” about the dearth of intelligent presidential candidates.

They can continue to bay and howl the details of Cho’s crime, punctuated by their crocodile-teared condolences for the families of the victims.

David H. writes:

I wholeheartedly agree with what you are saying as well as the sickening behavior of journalists as described by Maureen C. I’d like to add another reason why I too have begun avoiding this coverage like the (liberal) plague: The omnipresent question “What can we learn from this?” A myriad of liberal mantras ensue, and with the exception of “gun control” which will exacerbate an already terrible situation (and did nothing to stop this one), there is not one concrete answer to what must be done, if there is an answer at all.

Evelyn M. writes:

When I saw that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell teamed up with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to have a “moment of silence” in the Senate, I called them both and my own sorry excuse for a senator Diane Feinstein—and President Bush—to tell them the Senate and House should have a daily moment of silence for the many thousands of Americans murdered, maimed, raped and battered by illegal alien invaders. All because our Congress and President have kept open borders. No response.

David B. writes:

Have you noticed that the JFK assassination is usually referred to as a “tragedy”, rather than an evil act? Some years ago, the E Network (a lightweight channel devoted to celebrity news) had a program about the murder of Dominick Dunne’s daughter titled “An American Tragedy.” Dunne wrote an article about the trial and has covered celebrity trials since. The killer, who was her ex-boyfriend, walked to Miss Dunne’s house and strangled her, an evil act of murder, not a “tragedy.”

A group of writers who had access to O.J. Simpson’s defense team, wrote a book on the trial called, “American Tragedy.” Now, the despicable act of evil at Virginia Tech is called a “tragedy.” The TV coverage, which I too have stopped watching, is describing the “bullying” the killer is supposed to have received.

I recently visited the grave of a victim of a real tragedy. A grade school classmate and fellow member of a cub scout troop, was killed in a traffic accident on Thanksgiving weekend in 1962. He was a month short of his 12th birthday.

Sage McLaughlin writes:

I’m glad you’ve begun this discussion regarding the unseemly use of the word “tragedy” to describe what is more rightly called a horror.

In the interest of being fair-minded, I would like to suggest that some otherwise decent people might basically agree with your distinction between a tragedy as an unavoidable and highly regrettable quirk of fate, and tragedy as a result of fallen man’s tendency toward wickedness. Yet somehow they still think the VT murders is a tragedy in the latter sense. The great Greek (and Shakespearean, etc.) tragedies are so called not because there is no culpability. Rather, they are tragic because they entail the inescapable fact of man’s flawed nature and tendency to evil, such that all the best laid plans turn in some measure to darkness. I think for many commentators, this is what is meant when describing the deaths of those students and faculty as tragic.

It’s still a misapplication of the term, of course. Oedipus and Macbeth are guilty, but classic tragedies involve man’s virtues being twisted in the service of his vices. The Virginia Tech massacre was not a case of Cho Sueng Hui’s greatness being leveled by his pride, or some such thing. He did not set out to do good, only to see his plans brought to nothing by fate or by the darker side of his soul. This was simply a sick, evil young man doing what sick, evil men do. There is no tragedy in that, just ordinary, or rather extraordinary, wickedness. It is a symptom of our age that people can no longer identify this category of behavior for what it is. No, instead there must be some basic human goodness at the bottom of it all, and by some accident of nature it just turned out badly. So we get foolish questions like, “How could this happen?”

I suppose what I’m getting at is that in the case of some commentators, there is a kind of moral confusion at work that is not necessarily vicious. People do not read much, nor think deeply, and mislabeling something like the cold-blooded spree murder of 32 innocent people a “tragedy” is just one semantic by-product of this fact.

LA replies:

The thoughtless misuse of the word “tragedy” is not just a result of moral confusion; more importantly, it is a cause of moral confusion, implanting in the collective consciousness the unarticulated assumption that there is no such thing as moral evil. Just as certain anti-national and open-borders slogans, such as “Family values don’t stop at the Rio Grande,” implant the idea that we should have open borders to the whole world without actually saying so, so that the idea spreads and gains power without any debate or opposition, in the same way, calling a mass murder a “tragedy” plants the belief that there is no such thing as moral evil, without actually saying so, so that this radical relativist idea is never discussed or thought about, even as more and more people accede to it and thus lose the ability to think and speak in moral language.

That’s the way liberalism works. Liberalism, the ideology that presents itself as the acme of “openness,” “rationality,” “free speech,” “dialogue,” “transparency,” and “accountability,” is in reality a system of “mental engineering,” reshaping and controlling the minds of entire populations through unexamined slogans that the liberal system will not allow to be examined.

M. Mason writes:

You have written about the Virginia Tech shootings that you “have taken no interest in the memorial services, the candle-light vigils, the healing sessions, the TV interviews, the cable news commentary” etc. surrounding the aftermath of the massacre—an attitude that, in my opinion, is quite understandable given the continual barrage of infuriating relativistic liberal drivel saturating the airwaves about it. However, I don’t know if you actually saw the convocation ceremony itself that was televised but if not, you will be further incensed to know that a Muslim Imam actually led off the invocation with, as I understand it, a prayer to Allah, followed by the usual thin gruel of feeble bleating emanating from various other religious humanists assembled, not one of whom had the decency to exempt himself from or protest this travesty.

Then, to add further insult and injury to the proceedings, Nikki Giovanni, a Virginia Tech “Distinguished Professor” of Writing and Literature, stood to address the assembly at the end of the service. Giovanni, it should be noted, has a past reaching back to the 1960s that is influenced by the Black Panthers, and her performance which followed harkened back to those radical leftist roots. (Wikipedia states that she has “a tattoo with the words “Thug Life” to honor Tupac Shakur, whom she admired, and her book Love Poems (1997) was written in memory of him. She has also stated that she would “rather be with the thugs than the people who are complaining about them”).

Giovanni proceeded to use this solemn occasion to close the ceremony with a politicized chant poem. Alluding to many of the usual Leftist-Communist causes that we’re supposedly responsible for, I was actually waiting for her at some point to insert some reference to the oppressive white male hegemony and global warming into her comments. Then, at the very end of her statement, she shamelessly resorted to leading the poor students and their parents in the school’s sports cheer—an old entertainer’s trick (get something you know everyone has to clap to, and then turn the clapping into applause for yourself, and in this case, your cause). You would have thought that she had just won the Super Bowl the way she was smiling and celebrating with her hands in the air, caught up in her own rousing performance. The text of this offensive speech and an accompanying photo of her can be seen here.

You might also want to take a quick look at the first ten comments or so of others after the main blog entry to get some people’s reactions to the event. One of them made a very good, common-sense point when he stated that:

” … Why was the Imam allowed to speak first? How many VA Tech students are Muslims? One percent? Two percent? So, in the face of pure evil, we must remain politically correct. No wonder these students, and yes, adults, did not fight back. That would have been politically incorrect. A bunch of white guys rushing a minority who had a gun. No, no, we can’t have that, now can we?”

All in all, this bizarre “healing rally” was quite a grand performance of leftist multicultural diversity programming; and in its own way, the message it sends guarantees that we will not only have more events like the Virginia Tech masacre in the future, but also that many of the survivors will remain perpetually chained and paralyzed, as you say, in their “Eloihood.”

Posted by Lawrence Auster at April 21, 2007 01:48 AM | Send

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