Letter to the Editor
I was appalled by the commentary titled “VT Killer Needs Closer Look” (April 23) that sought to explain Cho Seung-Hui’s motives in the Virginia Tech massacre. Overall, I got the sense that the article was trying to pin the blame of the Virginia Tech tragedy on the “typical” Asian-American immigrant household as somehow having stunted Cho’s emotional development and ultimately his judgment in making the decision to take the lives of 33 people.
The author makes sweeping generalizations about Asian-American families that show a severe misunderstanding of East-Asian culture. Many parenting practices of some Asian-American immigrant parents may seem backward from the Western point of view and may be misinterpreted as stern and unaffectionate.
However, we can’t discount these parenting styles just because they’re different and don’t always fit the Western norm. There are thousands of people who have grown up in immigrant families, and many of them have had difficult experiences adjusting to life in the United States. It doesn’t make them any more likely to become emotionally traumatized and commit mass murder.
Secondly, just because UC Irvine has a large Asian population does not necessitate the sudden need to worry about a UCI student becoming the next perpetrator. This is precisely the kind of dangerous mentality that sets in during times of crisis: that because one person of a racial group committed an atrocity, all the other members of that group are suddenly “on notice.”
Lastly, it is absolutely ridiculous to speculate that Cho might have not ended up the way he had if he’d had better presents as a child. Most parents do the best to provide for their children but it is impossible for them to satisfy every single one of their children’s material wants. At a certain point, people should wise up and recognize the difference between needs and wants, and that material gifts are not the same thing as a parent’s love.
Perhaps the author should have thought about what sort of inferences he was making about the children of the Asian-American immigrant experience before making these ill-conceived assumptions about Cho’s background.
fourth-year cognitive sciences and political science double-major