"Heartily ashamed"

The right's response to the shootings at Virginia Tech.

Published April 18, 2007 11:19AM (EDT)

The National Review hasn't published any further Virginia Tech ruminations by John Derbyshire since he was taken to task here, there and everywhere for blaming the victims for not doing more to stop their killer. But that doesn't mean that the National Review -- or the right in general -- has gone quietly into the night, either.

The Corner, the National Review's group blog, has helpfully collected some of its post-shooting posts under the heading Phi Beta Cons. There, John Miller quite appropriately lays into the Chicago Sun-Times for initially reporting that the shooter was a "Chinese national," and he notes that the Washington Nationals wore Virginia Tech baseball caps during their home game against the Atlanta Braves Tuesday night. But when Kathryn Jean Lopez notes that the Asian American Journalists Association is urging the media to "avoid using racial identifiers" in the case "unless there is a compelling or germane reason" -- in Lopez's telling, AAJA says, "Don't call the Virginia Tech shooter Asian" -- Miller asks, "Can we mention that he was a man?"

In the same space, Candace de Russy wants to know how much checking the U.S. government does when it lets people into the country on visas. "That is, just how effective are these officials at identifying signs that an applicant may prove to be dangerous? In the case of Cho, were any such signs missed?" Cho Seung-hui first came to the United States in 1992, when he would have been about 8 years old.

Then there's Lopez again, quoting a missive from a Virginia Tech graduate who notes that the big issue on campus last week was whether a local redevelopment project would feature "an evil Wal-Mart" and wonders whether the shootings will help people in Blacksburg "put things in perspective again, albeit a bit abruptly."

But as we said, the Corner doesn't have a corner on this market. At Human Events Online, Nathaniel Blake jumps on the John Derbyshire bandwagon with a post titled "Where Were the Men?" His point: While he doesn't know if he would have had the courage to jump in front of the shooter, "I know that I should be heartily ashamed of myself if I didn't."

On the radio, Rush Limbaugh is predicting -- all evidence in the wall-to-wall coverage notwithstanding -- that the U.S. news media will sympathize with Cho rather than with his victims: "Well, I'm looking at the Drudge page, and Drudge is on this in the right way. He has a picture of the shooter up there, and the headline is: 'You caused me to do this,' in quotes, which is a reference to this guy's note, blaming 'rich kids' and 'American debauchery.' Of course, the Drive-By Media says, 'Oh, wow, does that fit a template! Yes, yes, yes! We've got poverty and we've got rich people and we have people who have a lot and people that don't have much, and we've got a debauched society, culture -- and, of course, we can understand why the guy might have flipped. Yes, yes, because America is unjust.'"

Limbaugh wonders why the left didn't "propagandize about the Second Amendment" when "Janet Reno conducted the Waco invasion." Which would be a most excellent point, if only the Second Amendment had anything to do with the federal government's "right to bear arms" -- or if anyone were actually arguing that law enforcement or the military shouldn't be allowed to carry weapons.

Speaking of not-quite-so-excellent points, Bill O'Reilly complains that "America haters all over the world" are using the shootings as cause for "gloating about the decline of the U.S.A." In fact, O'Reilly says, "mass murder in America is rare, and the murder rate in this country has been steadily dropping for 15 years." Although the Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics says that the homicide rate in the United States dropped steadily from 1992 through 2000 -- hey, wasn't Bill Clinton the president then? -- it says that that rate has been "stable" since then. We think that's a polite way of saying that the FBI's murder rate has actually gone up for three of the last four years for which numbers are available.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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