Adair: Taking the VT massacre personally


Adair: Taking the VT massacre personally


By Jeff Adair/Daily News columnist
Fri Apr 20, 2007, 12:19 AM EDT

The responses seemed strange. A legislator in Washington, a student in Oklahoma, an insurance company owner in San Diego, and a government official and many others a continent away.

This week, all felt the need to apologize. But they didn't do anything wrong, so why apologize? They all happen to be of Korean ancestry, like the Virginia Tech gunman, Cho Seung-Hui.

"It hurts me deeply," Paull Shin, an orphan adopted by an American after the Korean War, and now a state senator in Washington, told his colleagues Wednesday. "This is not the way to pay back the blessings we received."

"As a people, we take a certain amount of shame even though we didn't know this guy," said a co-organizer of a candlelight vigil in San Diego.

"I think there's a lot of closed-minded people and people would automatically associate his actions with his race," Naht Nguyen, an Oklahoma City Community College student told the school newspaper.

It seemed strange.

Then of course, it's not new. I'm sure right after the Oklahoma City bombing, when initial reports pointed to a Middle Eastern man, those of that ancestry felt the same. I'm sure right after 9-11, Arab-Americans felt society was blaming them.

Strange, isn't it?

Not really. Not for those of us so-called minorities. The D.C. sniper attacks and the Carol Dimaiti Stuart murder in 1989 (police were looking for a black man, but later discovered her husband was the culprit) are two examples that stand in my mind. The minute the crimes hit the media, I said to myself, "I hope it's not a black man."

Maybe we're paranoid. "Everyone's looking at us," we say.

Maybe we grow tired of the stereotypes. We don't want to hear the critical, often wrong analysis of our communities.

Maybe we see a double standard, as Mercury News writer L.A. Chung put it in a column this week, "I can't say I know a single white male who read about Jeffrey Dahmer's serial killing and thought, 'Oh, no, another white guy' - FBI criminal personality profiles notwithstanding."

Dr. Kermit Crawford, a clinical psychologist and professor, told me that as recently as January, he felt the same way, crossing his fingers, hoping that the fatal stabbing at Lincoln-Sudbury High was not committed by a black person.

The director of the Center for Multicultural Health at Boston University, Crawford said such feelings are rational in the sense that we all take ownership for our culture, whether we want to or not.

That's not to say people should feel guilty, he said.

He said in discussions with many people the past few days, including some who are Korean, it seems there's more of a collective fear, than collective guilt.

"The greater concern is that there might be retaliation," he said. "There's a fear of them being blamed because they are Korean or Asian."

The information from the Virginia Tech case points to Cho Seung-Hui as a very disturbed student, to put it mildly. Therefore, in my opinion every right thinking person should agree with Crawford that race had nothing to do with it.

"Some people are sick," he said. "Some are just evil."

Still, the apologies are made. According to, South Korea's Ambassador to the U.S., Lee Tae Shik, pledged to fast for 32 days to show his sorrow.

That seems strange. Doesn't it?

Jeff Adair is a Daily News writer and editor. He can be reached at


Original Source: Framingham, MA - The MetroWest Daily News
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Jeff Adair / The MetroWest Daily News, “Adair: Taking the VT massacre personally,” The April 16 Archive, accessed May 19, 2022,