As with every American tragedy, we are about to learn all sorts of “lessons” in the aftermath of the VT shootings. And true to form, most of these lessons will be hastily implemented versions of pre-existing agendas, shoddily conceived, and in the long run, more painful than the tragedy itself. It is a uniquely American form of grieving, completely predictable, and equally difficult to stop.
And in case you doubt me, the “lessons” we “learned” from 9/11 have us in Iraq. Think about that for a minute.
Already we can see the wheels turning on some websites, and a thousand bad ideas bloom. To wit, Debbie Schlussel:
Here’s what we know about the murderer of at least 32 students and maimer of at least 28 more at Virginia Tech, today:
* The murderer has been identified by law enforcement and media reports as “a young Asian male.”
* The Virginia Tech campus has a very large Muslim community, many of which are from Pakistan (per terrorism investigator Bill Warner).
* Pakis are considered “Asian.”
* There were 2 attacks at least half a mile apart.
* There have been at least two bomb threats to this campus in the last two weeks.
**** UPDATE: Shootings appear professional, says expert; VTU Alum on school’s “Asian” Population; 2nd Amenment-Free Campus/VTU lobbied against students having guns on campus for personal protection ****
**** UPDATE #2: The shooter has now been identified as a Chinese national here on a student visa. Lovely. Yet another reason to stop letting in so many foreign students. ****
**** UPDATE #3, 04/17/07: The shooter has now been identified as a South Korean national. ****
As if the status of legal immigration was not screwed up enough, it is about to get a whole lot worse. Not to mention the run of the mill racism and xenopohobia that will serve as the basis for a whole lot of new
bad ideas “lessons.”
Another bad idea:
THIS IS AWFUL: “At least 20 people were killed this morning at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and University after a shooting spree at two buildings on the campus.” Nobody seems to know much yet on what happened. These things do seem to take place in locations where it’s not legal for people with carry permits to carry guns, though, and I believe that’s the case where the Virginia Tech campus is concerned. I certainly wish that someone had been in a position to shoot this guy at the outset.
I live and work on a college campus. I simply can not express how bad of an idea it is to permit a population of undeveloped and aggressive young males going through tumultuous times in their lives to run around armed to the teeth. In fact, we kind of already saw what happened yesterday, didn’t we? I do not think more gun control would have stopped this yesterday. I really don’t. But only someone with an agenda could look at the massacre yesterday and state that the solution to the problem was “more guns.”
So prepare yourselves. Watch out for the “lessons” coming this week. Make sure you don’t learn them.
*** Update ***
We have a winner:
[Ross] Eugene Volokh wonders how soon is too soon to start the inevitable post-Virginia Tech dialogue about gun control, and Joshua Claybourn chimes in. Obviously, this kind of meta-debate is somewhat academic, since nobody – from the New York Times editorial page to Michelle Malkin – seems interested in waiting even a day before trotting out their hobby-horses. I’m extremely skeptical, though, that there’s actually anything significant to learn about gun policy from yesterday’s violence: Extreme, unpredictable events like this one seem like precisely the kind of thing that shouldn’t dictate lawmaking decisions (though of course they inevitably do). If there’s a case for gun control, it’s in the daily run of shooting deaths that don’t make the front page; if there’s a case against gun control, it’s in the daily run of crimes deterred by an armed citizenry (and in more abstract questions of personal liberty), not in the faint chance that a kid with a conceal-and-carry permit might have taken the Virginia killer down.
Ross Douthat, blogging for Sullivan.