"You forced me into a corner and gave me only one option. The decision was yours. Now you have blood on your hands that will never wash off."
– Cho Seung-Hui
"Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran"
– Senator John McCain
We usually hear little about shooting deaths unless enough people die in the same place at the same time. Every day 32 Americans are killed by gun violence. It is the act of terror most likely to be inflicted upon us all. Ironically, 32 was the number of fatalities inflicted by a gunman at Virginia Tech University.
Just as they did eight years ago at Columbine High School, the media descended upon Blacksburg, Virginia. They spoke to students about their dead classmates, about desperate efforts to save lives, and the horror of the bloodshed they witnessed. They spoke lovingly of their friends who died and painstakingly enumerated their special qualities.
The corporate media have never profiled Iraqis killed by American bombs, gunfire and prisons. We never know how much they were loved and how they fought to stay alive while violent people sought to take their lives. We never hear the story of the destruction of Iraq’s medical system, infrastructure and water supply. Iraqis aren’t Americans, they aren’t white and they were killed by our government. Those factors add up to a ho-hum attitude surrounding their deaths.
As the week wore on the enormity of America’s addiction to violence against the rest of the world became painfully clear. Senator John McCain is a presidential candidate, an allegedly sane man and an influential politician. He and many other respectable Americans are also worse than Seung-Hi Cho. McCain sang his horrific little ditty about killing Iranians among a group of like minded folks, who think they have a right to bomb human beings into oblivion and to laugh while they do it.
Cho came by his murderous rage somewhat honestly. He was certifiably psychotic, a one time patient in a psychiatric hospital. What is McCain’s excuse for openly expressing his murderous fantasies in song? The silence surrounding the McCain call to bloodlust was deafening. The big campaign news that day was the cost of John Edwards’ haircuts, not a psychotic call to kill from another candidate.
The pundits and the politicians all agreed that Cho was evil, demonic, diabolical. If so, he was no worse than George W. Bush. What is the occupation of Iraq if not evil? Four years ago, Uncle Sam began a violent spree that resulted in more than 600,000 dead. As the American people make it clear that they want the U.S. out, politicians like McCain are more determined than ever to stay and keep up the body count.
The desire to leave Bush’s quagmire behind is not necessarily the result of moral outrage. Instead there is frustration that Iraqis won’t clean up America’s mess more quickly, or anger about the loss of American lives. McCain has plenty of company among the American people.
The Virginia Tech killing spree revealed other evils as well. Before Cho was even identified, one openly racist pundit declared that the gunman was probably a Muslim, a "Paki." According to her equally deranged counterparts, the dead students and professors were wimps who deserved to be killed. Chicken hawks think that shootings are like movies, where an unarmed hero can take down a gunman. Why didn’t they just rush the guy? Why don’t we just take out Saddam? Why not bomb Iran? The sick mind set that has already killed many thousands was on full display. Apparently the right wing won’t be happy until all of us are dead.
John McCain may be the only presidential candidate who thinks it is funny to sing about killing Iranians. The others might not sing about it, but they are all willing to do the same thing. Hillary Clinton has already declared that she would keep American troops in Iraq.
That is the true horror revealed at Virginia Tech. Seung-Hi Cho is not alone in his willingness to take many lives. The other psychotic would-be killers have the power to kill many, many more than Cho could ever dream about.
Margaret Kimberley is an editor and senior columnist for the Black Agenda Report. Her Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgandaReport.Com. When sending email, please remember to replace the (at) with @.