Response to Virginia Tech killings

Appeared in multiple Virginia newspapers on April 17, 2007, one day after the tragedy at Virginia Teach.

virginia tech flowers

What happened in Blacksburg, Virginia at Virginia Tech on Monday was an act against humanity. As the stories of students lost begin to pour in during these wee hours of the night that I feel compelled to write, one cannot help but weep at the lives lost today and the lives lost throughout time.

There is no good to come of senseless death but what I fear most is how these deaths and this tragedy will be played out to the public.

On March 30th, Alison Kunhardt and Tessa Tranchant were killed in Virginia Beach by a drunk driver. This immense tragedy left families wrecked and students in mourning. This kind of thing should never happen. But these two young girls are being used by Bill O’Reilly among countless others as pawns in a twisted game of hatred that seeks to destroy more lives by refusing to witness what happened: unadulterated disaster.

This, of course, is nothing new. We’ve learned the processes of mainstream media and its use of tragedy and myth to propel causes always currently “to be determined.” Yet watching CNN, MSNBC and Headline News (for something so personal I could not even bring myself to desecrate the memory of the dead by turning to Fox News), I saw the power of the elite lifting their legs as if ready to pounce over the newscasters to attach a perverse cause to the deaths of students.

I challenge all reading to wait a few days and turn on the television where you left off. The issue will not be of funerals, privacy or redemption but of gun control, Asian Americans and the militarization of universities. The media and whom they serve cannot let a moment that is being built up like the next 9/11 (in terms of feeling, which multiple reporters did ascribe to these students deaths) pass through their hands. It is all too easy, and after all, these are just kids, right?
But as the palms of Congress, lobby groups and television personalities begin to sweat in anticipation of capitalizing on the grief of others, the students of Virginia Tech and the students across all of America have the sudden ability to forcefully declare, “NO.”

No, we as students do not need to be guided by you, the politician, businessman or the TV star. No, we as students will not let our friends be martyrs for a cause invented to suit your needs. No, we as students will not be coerced or fooled into believing the rhetoric handed to us. This is tragedy. We learn about tragic heroes in high school, and these 32 men and women are heroes. Gunned down going to class; “our best and brightest” they say are gone, and they are.

One dead. Thirty-two dead. Three thousand dead. On our campuses and in foreign lands. Selective grief must be halted. Our communities must mourn children battling final exams and children battling in foreign lands. President Bush must not grieve for Virginia Tech, unless he’s willing to grieve for the soldiers lost as well.

We cannot expect feeling out of our leaders, nothing has changed. But in our hearts carries the key to rising above the statistics and the hype and seeing the stark beauty of the people we knew, or of the people we are just beginning to learn about even though it is too late.


~ by Daniel on April 17, 2007.

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