“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
We are all Hokies now. I’m always hesitant to write about breaking news stories like the Virgina Tech shootings. Between the time I type this on Wednesday night and the time you read it on Sunday morning, we’ll all likely know much more about the shootings, and Seung-Hui Cho, than we know now. There are plenty of valid questions to be asked: did the University act quickly enough to protect students after the first two victims were killed? Did the court system that found Cho mentally ill fail in its duty to protect society? Should the University have done more after receiving numerous signs that Cho was seriously disturbed; his stalking of female students, violent written fantasies and so forth? Is there anything to be learned from Cho’s bizarre, rambling, profanity-laced video tirade? Are Virginia’s notoriously lax gun laws to blame? Or should students and faculty be allowed to carry guns on campus?
Naturally, any time a tragedy like this occurs, politicians rush to spin it for their own agenda. President Bush and his identical twin brother Senator John McCain, for example, made sure their very first press releases on the killings clearly indicated their complete obeisance to the National Rifle Association. Some on the Left rushed to call for more gun control, even though it’s not clear any type of gun control short of total confiscation could have prevented this tragedy. The usual suspects on the Right call for nearly the exact opposite, arming students and teachers, again in the absence of any evidence this would have helped. It should be noted, though, that a similar attack at the Appalachian School of Law in 2002 (ironically also in Virginia and also involving an immigrant) was foiled by two students (one of them an off-duty police officer) using their private weapons. I am no particular fan of gun control for several reasons, not the least of which is the fact that people of my ancestry have directly experienced what happens to unarmed people when the Federal government decides they are inconvenient or in the way of “progress.” However, I don’t agree with this “mutual assured destruction” theory; that if everyone has a gun, crime will be deterred. Texas’ nearly non-existent gun control laws and high violent crime rate alone put the lie to that argument. What truly disgusts me, though, is the growing chorus of Right-Wing commentators that have shifted from blaming gun control laws for Virginia Tech, to actually blaming the victims. John Derbyshire, a repulsive troglodyte who excretes “columns” for the National Review Online, was the first to call VT students cowards for not counting the shots (as though the average college student can identify handguns by report alone and has memorized the number of shots per clip for all major brands of hand weapons) and then wrestling Cho to the ground while he was re-loading. This cretin’s last contribution to the national dialogue was calling for the court-martial of British marines and sailors for failing to fight to the death for his amusement against Iranian pirates. Surely, I thought, this is just one lone idiot. No one else could possibly be not only this stupid, but this catastrophically insensitive? I was wrong. Neal Boortz, a talk-radio blowhole on the Cox Network, blasted the students as examples of the “wussification of America.” Michelle Malkin, frequently inflicted upon the nation via FOX News and CNN, hopped on board the slimy bandwagon, adding an extra spin in blaming liberal educators for destroying the “culture of self defense.” Mark Steyn, another National Review contributor, defended his fellow troll Derbyshire and blamed the students for “corrosive passivity” and believing that “the state” would be there to be protect them. This kind of vile disgusting reprehensible verbal pornography is a sad testament to the continuing degeneration of the conservative movement in America. This is what conservatism is all about now? Chickenhawks who have never risked even a scrapped knee railing against students who dove for cover when bullets were flying all around them? Derbyshire, Boortz, Malkin and Steyn have surrendered whatever passed for a conscience. They are truly and utterly beneath contempt in every way. Forget liberals who are outraged by this kind of excrement; where are the conservatives? The real conservatives? Where are the voices on the Right to stand up on their hind legs and tell idiots like these the same thing I said to fatuous Hollywood liberal dilettantes: SHUT UP! If you won’t tell them to shut up for the sake of basic human compassion, which the Right Wing Noise Machine abandoned long ago, then tell them to shut up for the sake of your own political self-preservation. If these disgusting howler monkeys are the public face of conservatism, then the Right is looking at a long, lonely time wandering in the electoral wilderness. In facing another preening, self-absorbed megalomaniac, Joseph McCarthy, attorney Robert Welch famously asked, “Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?” Apparently not.
UPDATE: An alert reader pointed out that in my last column I mistakenly identified the Rutgers University Women’s Basketball Team as the National Champions. In fact, that honor goes to the University of Tennessee Lady Vols, who beat the Cinderella story Rutgers team 59-46. Add the Lady Vols to the list of outstanding young athletes whose moment in the sun was stolen by a loud-mouthed idiot on the radio.