Apr 3, 2009


Another shooting massacre, another brownyellow face that will make its way over every news channel. This time, the victims seem to all be immigrants, which makes this a different kind of tragedy from Virginia Tech, but quite related: there is an innocence with youth and an innocence that I connect with the long journey one must make to gain citizenship in this country.

Today is a chilling reminder that we're not safe, no matter where we are, and no matter who we think might be "one of us." But I'm wondering what the national mood will be: will people just move on from this, not taking the full tragedy to heart, or will they stand as firmly as everyone did with Virginia Tech? I was impressed by the Mayor of Binghamton, making it clear that these were residents and citizens of his city, and that together, they were a critical part of the fabric of that society.

While we don't know enough - or really anything - about the killer, I think that if the initial reports are true, and that this is a distraught or deranged man in his 40s, of Asian descent, there are a few things that I hope are talked about more. Mental health issues were paramount and discussed to some degree after Virginia Tech, but I haven't seen much movement. In addition, the cumulative effect of American wars in Asia: militarization, emasculation of males, and desensitization to violence of both the populations abroad and those here. It's not an excuse, of course, but a larger conversation that Asian Americans should be having within our communities, particularly those that have been war torn in past or present.

It's a sad day in upstate New York, and I feel an overwhelming heaviness about the whole thing. When they release the names and stories of the victims, suddenly the quick search through for immigrants / Asians that I inevitably do in any such tragedy will result in far more names than usual. It will become clear, as we can only imagine, that the victims' stories match those of people in our families, that we see every day, who have been making the time to learn what they needed to finally "become American" by naturalizing and looking back to the land of their birth no more as home. It is a sad day in America, where even a place where people go to become American is not safe.

I fear the wingnut commentators on this. If they even talk about it at all, or decide to just dismiss it all as third-world news from a small city no one will care about in a few weeks. I don't know what would be worse: their attention, or their disinterest.

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