Saturday, April 4, 2009

"America Sucks" - Binghamton, New York, Bullies, and "Little Eichmanns"

Over a dozen people were shot in Binghamton, New York, yesterday. At an immigration center. The place was full of "people from countries as far off as Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan...." (AP)

There's no reasonable doubt about who did the shooting: The last body had a self-inflicted wound, and there were surviving witnesses. One of whom, a receptionist, sent a 911 call and fed information to authorities for 90 minutes: after being seriously wounded and left for dead. (AP)

Taliban Commander Baitullah Mehsud: I Did It!

Pakistan's top Taliban commander says that his people shot up the immigration center. The FBI was - and is - dubious about that claim. (WSJ)

" 'I accept the responsibility. They were my men,' Mehsud told reporters in Peshawar on phone from some undisclosed location.

"Mehsud said the massacre was in revenge for the continued US drone attacks on Pakistan's tribal region bordering Afghanistan...." (

Taliban Connection? Unlikely

I was a bit dubious, myself, early on: although the news stories did seem to hint at a possible Middle East connection. People from "as far off as Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan" were at the immigration center, and the AP quoted someone from Kazakhstan. (AP)

As more details came out, we learned that the shooter had ID on him with the name Jiverly Voong: which police said was probably an alias.

Okay: So far, it's still barely possible that this was a more traditional sort of Middle Eastern terrorism: using firearms, instead of suicide vests. A machine gun worked fine on the Achille Lauro.

Then, Jiverly Voong / Wong was identified as a Vietnamese immigrant. That made a Taliban connection less likely.

But still possible. Not all Muslims have ancestors in the Middle East. Just as not all people from the Middle East are Muslims.

Voong / Wong apparently had his own motive: one that didn't involve the Taliban.

Jiverly Voong AKA Jiverly Wong: America Sucks

"The Vietnamese immigrant blamed for the upstate massacre of 13 people was depressed over losing his job and angry over taunts about his poor English, the Binghamton police chief said Saturday.

" 'He spoke very little or no English, and he was upset that people degraded him and disrespected him for that reason,' Chief Joe Zikuski said on the 'Today' show...." (New York Daily News) The New York Daily News also wrote: "The gunman told former co-workers, 'I don't like America. America sucks.' "

"These Viet namese" and Real Americans

Voong / Wong has a point. A comment on a New York Daily Post article:

"'lamartrotti Apr 4, 2009 10:18:58 AM
"I've always been against letting these Viet namese [!] into the country in the first place. Give their country money and other kinds of help but keep these people out. I live around them and as a rule they really don't like the US and are quite open about it. So I'm not surprised when I read that this man was a Vietnamese. They use our school system, get our jobs, live in quality neighborhoods and still hate us. SEND ALL OF THEM BACK TO VIETNAM. They suck!' " (New York Daily Post)

When I was growing up, "if you don't like it here, go back where you came from" was popular among "real Americans." Observing that attitude got in the way of my appreciating what a great place this is for a long time.

As a descendant of a few sets of 'those people,' I probably can't appreciate how disgusting it is to have foreigners living nearby. That doesn't mean that I'm 'against real Americans' and 'for those foreigners.' We're all human beings: and some of us are jerks. That's part of the human condition.

"America Sucks:" Free Speech and Responsibility

I don't think I'd be comfortable with laws or regulations that would prevent a college professor from teaching students whatever they want to. Although writing that people in New York City's World Trade Center deserved to die on 9/11 because they were "little Eichmanns" does seem a tad unreasonable. (April 3, 2009)

Just the same, the right to make moonbat-crazy statements is a very basic freedom.
Specialty Boutiques in the Marketplace of Ideas
On a fairly level playing field, I have some trust in the marketplace of ideas. I think that notions like 'Nero was working with the Christians,' 'the CIA blew up the World Trade Center, and that we should be on guard against Jesuit assassins1 will remain a sort of specialty boutique in the marketplace. Provided that other opinions, even 'divisive' ones, are allowed.
The Guy With the Gun is Responsible
I wrote, yesterday, about academic freedom, and academic freedom American style.

I don't think that America's Ward Churchills are (directly) responsible for the shootings in Binghamton, New York.

I don't think that the 'real Americans' who disrespected the shooter, and the fellow who wrote "SEND ALL OF THEM BACK TO VIETNAM. They suck!," are (directly) responsible for the deaths.

I think that, in a case like this, whoever is holding the weapon and doing the killing is responsible - at least to some extent. I'm no fan of the insanity defense, but there are psychiatric conditions which do interfere with the ability to make decisions. As I often say, that's a whole different topic.

Just the same, people don't live in isolation. What goes on in the society a person's in makes a difference. It's likely that we'll be reading editorials about how bad bullying is (true), and how the bullies are to blame for Voong / Wong shooting up an immigration center (debatable).

A few editorials may even mention the steady stream of subtle - and not-so-subtle - anti-Americanism that flows from many of America's self-described best and brightest.

Lots of Shootings Recently

March, 2009, was a bad month for mass murders in America, and there have been too many recently:
  • March 29, 2009
    • Robert Stewart, 45, Carthage, NC
      • Eight dead
      • Nine, after police shot Stewart to prevent more deaths
  • March 29, 2009
    • Devan Kalathat, 42, Santa Clara, CA
      • His two children
      • Three other relatives
      • Himself
      • Critically injured his wife
  • March 10, 2009
    • Michael McLendon, 28, AL
      • Ten dead
      • 11, after he killed himself
  • February 14, 2008
    • Steven Kazmierczak, 27, Northern Illinois University in DeKalb
      • Five dead
      • Six, after he killed himself
  • December 5, 2007
    • Robert A. Hawkins, 19, Omaha, NE
      • Killed Eight
      • Nine, after he killed himself
  • April 16, 2007
    • Seung-Hui Cho, 23, Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, VA
      • Killed 32
      • 33, after he killed himself

One Mass Murder is Too Many: This is Really Bad

The governor of New York asked a good question, reacting to the latest mass murder: this one in his state.

"Gov. David Paterson said the massacre was probably 'the worst tragedy and senseless crime in the history of this city.' Noting mass killings in Alabama and Oakland, Calif., last month, he said: 'When are we going to be able to curb the kind of violence that is so fraught and so rapid that we can't even keep track of the incidents?' " (AP)

"America sucks" and the "Little Eichmanns" - Think About It

I think a step in the right direction would be for institutions of higher education and news media to re-evaluate some of their cultural values. Particularly the cherished belief that there is no problem that cannot be blamed on America and/or American Big [whatever].

I've studied history: America isn't perfect. But for 232 years and counting, this country has been supporting freedom. Not perfectly: but American citizens are all human beings. Some of us are jerks, all of us are imperfect. But, as a whole, particularly in the last century, America is the country people have been escaping to: not from.

For all my life, America has been a country where dissent was tolerated to a remarkable degree. A professor could
  • Steal other people's work
  • Claim it as his own
  • Write that victims of the 9/11 attack had it coming because they were "little Eichmanns"
    • And complicit in American oppression
Eventually, as news of his plagiarism became an embarrassment, Ward Churchill lost his job with the University of Colorado. I think that his remarkable views regarding America contributed to U of C's embarrassment, too.

But, America is tolerant. This country's courts found that firing him was illegal: and made the university give him his job back. That may or may not be right, but it's the way America works. Tolerance for views like Churchill's is called "academic freedom."

That doesn't happen in every country.

Related posts: News and views: Background:


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Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Brian H. Gill said...


That's an approximately 17,000 word comment you pasted.

That's excessive length, and I'm deleting it as a comment.

However, the text is interesting from some points of view, and so I'm including it in a post: "Greedy Rich People and an "Organized Campaign to Suppress the Truth" - Who Knew? " (April 5, 2009).

Brian H. Gill said...

Anonymous, and anyone who is convinced that They are behind It: I do not make a habit of preserving dire warnings of vast conspiracies.

The April 4 Anonymous's text was an interesting specimen: and I had a slot open for that sort of thing.

It won't happen again: not any time soon.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.