Cho is no emblem of America


Cho is no emblem of America


Sunday April 22, 2007</b>
<a href=",,2062898,00.html">The Observer</a>

Julia Pryde is not a household name. She was a 23-year-old graduate biology student who wanted to encourage recycling at the cafeteria at Virginia Tech University. Her face is not as universally known as that of Cho Seung-hui, the man who shot her and 31 others on campus last week. Cho secured his status as an icon of infamy by taking time, amid the massacre, to send a video manifesto to a TV network. Cho wanted not only to terrorise his fellow students, but to stare the world in the face, or rather, to force the world to look him in the eye.
NBC has been criticised for showing the footage. Although there was a legitimate public interest in airing the material - it helped explain the dark motivation of the killer - the decision to run it on a constant loop within hours of the killings was clearly not taken with any consideration of sensitivity to survivors or victims&#39; relatives. NBC apologised and toned down their coverage. But in the modern media age, Cho&#39;s broadcast would always have found a worldwide audience. He would still, one way or another, have forced everyone to hear his awful message: it is you who are responsible for this, not me.

That is not true, of course. Cho was a psychopath, determined to kill. It may be the case that his determination was expedited by easy access to guns. But that is a feature of American society and American politics with its own strange logic, immune to comment by outsiders.

The image of Cho striking murderous poses crosses all cultures. It is the face of modern, media-literate terror. That is not a fair emblem of modern American society. A truer symbol is found in the packed classrooms and lecture theatres of Virginia Tech, filled, just days after the massacre, with students who were determined to get on with their education - a triumph of youthful optimism over deadly nihilism.


April 22, 2007 8:16 AM

Tragic though this all is , one has had a media onslaught day after relentless day,whilst ignoring 200+ killed/maimed/injured etc etc etc ad nauseum, a day in Iraq and thousands more in just as violent and senseless episodes elsewhere in world that are ignored or glossed over by media. .

And disturbing though Cho was, one has surely to remember that this kid was desperately needing psyche help ? . I feel as sorry for him as his victims. That not one person bothered to follow up on the signs of his mental instability, and it seems enough powers that be and indeed students noticed, but did nothing is somehow as shocking as his mental breakdown that ended in this tragic episode .How sad is that.?


April 22, 2007 2:03 PM

Of course Cho, what ever his mental instablity, psychotic modus operandi at age 23, was not born as a killer. It is violent America that made him one, and for that matter, he is not exclusive, not that such maniac sociopaths are acceptable. Nevertheless, innocent Americans are not the only people that are dying or are killed. The war on Iraq and in Afghanistan; and the real terror of poverty, hunger, starvation, diseases like AIDS, malaria, denge fever, rift valley fever and hundreds of deadly viruses, parasites is a much bigger toll in thousands every day. The difference is the indifference of America to other people.

As far as emblem of America, we have George W. Bush, that is showing up the whole world with his megalomaniac, compulsive-obsessive, sociopath mentality, divine religious mandate, being the messenger of his. Plus the like minded perverse ideology of inequality and rights only of their kind, not to mention their malignant narcissism, chronic scape goating, uncorrectable grab bagging, while sacrifcing others with coercion, reckless abandon and impunity to promote their own, outward, hypocrite self image of good and perfection.


April 22, 2007 6:12 PM

To me Cho represents at an individual micro level what the American nation stands for in the world. It is a vast, wealthy, but sickly nation that readily lashes out with a violence whose totality is as chilingly complete as Cho&#39;s at nations that pose no immidiate or even remote danger to it. To understand what dark forces operated and lived in Cho&#39;s mind we need to first understand the American national psyche-the sickly desire of one nation to dominate and control the rest of the world and its willingness to visit total destruction on those who stand on the way of its crazy, demented, schezophrenic designs.
Of course I do not mean to trivialse the loss of the relatives of the dead students. Their loss is particularly severe in that all those lost were young people so full of promise and potential yet cut down in their prime years by a single lunatic. Inevitably so many lives there have been roughly touched by the hand of fate and altered for ever. Some will inevitably never recover from this loss. And all of them will go through life saying &#39;only if&#39; so and so had not died in that shooting. Indeed a vacuum never to be filled has been left in the lives of many parents, siblings, children and loved ones. No words can ever articulate their pain. However this tragic path that Americans now grieving have to tread on is a well worn path. Countless Iraqs walk it daily. Many in Afghanistan have to too. All because of America&#39;s madness. Black Africans bear a simillar loss on a daily basis because of the American policies on issues of AIDS etc. All this means the world is a tough neighbour-hood. The likes of Cho are forever larking everywhere, foreever ready to visit mayhem and chaos and destruction within communities at all levels.
In that vein as we take a pause to reflect on the tradegy and loss at VT lets also reflect on the countless lives lost elsewhere on that same day-dozens of kids succumbing to hunger and AIDS in Zimbabwe due to sanctions imposed by the West, and over and above all the 200 plus lost in bomb blasts at the very time the VT carnage was underway in Bhagdad Iraqi. It is a world gone mad.


April 22, 2007 8:03 PM

I doubt if America is a more aggressive culture than Britain
and I also dont think they have any more violent nutters than we do.
What is different is the ease with which such a young man can get hold of a high power handgun or an assault rifle.
The knowledge that this kind of weaaponry is available helps to feed meglomaniac fantasies of mass killing.
America is not a uniquilely evil society as some would like to think.
Was the British Empire that good or that of Soviet Russia?


April 22, 2007 10:02 PM

This poor young man was clearly a victim of religious delusion and is emblematic of the problems caused by the pernicious &#39;Christianity&#39; strain that has plagued our civilization these last 2000 years.

The time has come to grow up and put behind us these infantile games of make-believe which disturbed individuals take seriously with the terrible consequences we see daily in Iraq and every year in the USA.


April 24, 2007 8:58 AM

I am a college student in the USA. I would like to say to all who will listen that what happened is at Virginia Tech is a tragedy, but it is not representative of the US or our citizens. We are a large and varied country, and I promise that most of us are not psycopathic, gun-happy murderers. In fact, most of us are disgusted and disturbed by the actions of people like Cho, but we are not the ones you hear about in the news. We are the ones forgotten by the media and the world (including within our own borders). And please don&#39;t let this become a debate on the war in Iraq - there is massive opposition to the war by people in the US, and many of us who disagree with the actions of our government and support the Iraqi people. Cho is not symbolic of the US or its people. There are many of us who are aware of the many crises facing the world today - yes, even those that occur outside the US - and we do sympathize with them. We do not hold our lives to be any more important than other peoples, and we are not indifferent to the rest of the world. Please don&#39;t assume all people in the US are the same, and don&#39;t judge us by the ones you hear about in the news - inevitably those are ones who have committed atrocities rather than the average US citizen.

And as for the media - It is not the fault of the people if the media descends into the tabloid news that it so often is. The students at Virginia Tech have asked all media to leave their campus, an action supported by many. They need their time to grieve in private without being used to boost ratings.

<B>On Guardian Unlimited</B><BR><A HREF="">Full coverage of the Virginia Tech shootings</A><BR><A HREF=",,182056,00.html">Gun violence in the US</A><BR><A HREF=",,178412,00.html">Gun violence in Britain</A><BR><A HREF=",,759893,00.html">Full US coverage</A><BR><BR><B>Related articles</B><BR><A HREF=",,2059217,00.html">Virginia massacre gunman named</A><BR><A HREF=",,2059103,00.html">Unofficial list of shooting victims emerges</A><BR><A HREF=",,2058887,00.html">Massacre on campus</A><BR><A HREF=",,2059250,00.html">Q&A: US gun laws</A><BR><BR><B>World news guide</B><BR><A HREF=",,618255,00.html">North American Media</A><BR><BR><B>Media</B><BR><A HREF="">CNN</A><BR><A HREF="">New York Times</A><BR><A HREF="">Washington Post</A><BR><BR><B>Government</B><BR><A HREF="">Virginia state government portal</A><BR><A HREF="">US government portal</A><BR><A HREF="">White House</A><BR><A HREF="">Senate</A><BR><A HREF="">House of Representatives</A>

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Staff of The Observer




Adriana Seagle


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Staff of The Observer, “Cho is no emblem of America,” The April 16 Archive, accessed July 16, 2024,