Heroism, apologies, and overseas ballots

Perhaps my mind was already focused on the idea, because of big mango’s blog entry some days back, on leadership and sacrifice. But when I read that a professor at Virginia Tech (who had barricaded the door to his classroom until all his students could escape, but who was slain by that deranged gunman) turned out to be a Holocaust survivor and also died on Holocaust Memorial Day, I was stunned. Now that was leadership to the point of the ultimate sacrifice. You can read about that professor in my entry in Inquirer Current.

Bloggers are focusing on the killer, Cho Seung-Hui, his “disturbing note,” and his becoming “the new face of evil” (or just another evil face?). Also, an elegy by Marc Fisher and by Nagsusulat Lamang makes for thoughtful reading. Buzz Machine says the massacre story as it developed, points to “a new architecture of news.”

The government is irked by reports on the World Development Indicators 2007 (see its data on the Philippines: the figures on agriculture, exports, capital formation, merchandise trade, and foreign direct investments and the debt service are interesting: and you can see how overseas remittances compensate for the drop in some of those figures).

The Inquirer editorial focuses on a debate sparked by a Japanese writer who argues Japan shouldn’t be so eager to apologize for enslaving women during World War II. Read the controversial commentary by Hideaki Kase, and the response by Jeff Klingston; and the blog Comfort women and other legacies of war.

My Arab News column for this week is A Gigantic and Tragic Potential. The Wkipedia entry on Overseas Filipinos has some interesting facts and figures; what’s a bit confusing is the difference between the official census data (granted, always a bit behind because it takes so long to compile official statistics) and all the other numbers floating around.

Manuel Buencamino pens an open letter to the Comelec Chairman.

In the blogosphere, Ricky Carandang is back to blogging. Philippine Commmentary ponders the figures that might represent the voting population that votes on command.

Bunker Chronicles agonizes over a national character trait: influence-peddling. Thirtysomething doesn’t like it when journalists have cat fights.

YugaTech has an interesting entry on why mobile blogging has flopped in the Philippines.

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Manuel L. Quezon III.

16 thoughts on “Heroism, apologies, and overseas ballots

  1. From the perspective of the Japanese samurai/militarist culture akin to the warrior state Sparta wherein the nation state above all else – the other nations are inferior. Other Asians are sub-species and the white man barbarians.

    The history laid out by the Yasukuni Shrine makes no apologies for Japan’s actions in the last war and it clearly states in Japan’s eyes was in defense of their country and Asia from the white man. A sacred duty.

    The implicit racism in Japan vs. other nationalities is still very much prevalent. A result of hundreds of years of isolation resulting in a very homogenous society. The very first instance of a command structure of their political economy way before Stalin. Till today they outproduce the entire world in terms of steel production which is surprising in a country with very limited natural resources. Truly an example in collective endeavor honed by centuries of command culture.

    On the lunacy and madness that occurred in Virginia, truly this knows no nationality. Human species individually can work so much good at the same time can engage in so much lunacy unlike any other creature. It appears that he displayed the danger signals long before he exploded like a human time bomb. It will be interesting to see as more of his past comes up including his family life and relationships with his parents. We all become less human by his actions.

  2. One blog-poster (out of 40-plus other posters in the “crimerant” site) said:

    Rick Says:
    April 17th, 2007 at 10:46 am
    I said it in other blogs, just because these aliens, or immigrants are legally here, dosen’t mean that they are not the enemy. They are told to sit and mingle with the U.S. and when the timing is right………. crap like this happens! When is the U.S. govt. going to stop letting every damn foreigner into this country????????

    Twenty-times worse than the position by deQuiros (and ex-Justice Isagani Cruz, too, I think) that Filipinos who have taken US- or Australian- or any other citizenship have already turned their back on the Philippines and should not be welcomed back as normal citizens.

  3. Going back to Cho… one would quickly conclude that there is both high-IQ-genes and willingness-to-work-hard in his bloodline. The parents run their own business and children got accepted to very tough schools (Princeton for a daughter and Virginia Tech for Cho).

  4. just think of how many Prof. Librescus were killed during the holocaust. let’s thank The Almighty for this hero that was spared.

  5. Like they always say, there is just a thin line separating the genius and psychopath and psychopaths are intelligent people with just, that mental problems. With the rate of Suicides among youths in most developed countries is on the rise, cause by variety of problems, from drugs to broken homes and broken hearts, and the availability of lethal weapons (firearms) it is just a matter of time that suicidal youths will do some crazy things before taking their own. Two previous incidents in Quebec, the Marc Lepine Massacre of 14 women in Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal in l989 and the other one by Kimveer Gil, September 2006 killing one woman and wounding 19 others. Both gunmen left suicide notes and their intentions.

    Today the RCMP announced that they are planning to acquire and study all the building plans of Universities and Colleges and Trained all officers to deal with the emergency and not to wait for specialized forces. SOP kill the gunman as quick as possible. Lock down at the first sign of trouble. Copy cats are expected and authorities an the alert…

  6. Maybe Americans will now pass super strcit gun control laws?

    Nah, the NRA is too rich.

  7. One blog-poster (out of 40-plus other posters in the “crimerant” site) said:

    Am sure this guy is not full-blooded Indian so he must have come from Europe too. The brain must have weighed 1/10 of an ounce.

  8. to be fair, acquiring a gun in the states is apperently stricter compared to ten years ago. however, if columbine, the amish killings and other school murders made no difference, why should the v tech ?

    i even read something in today’s paper how this gun advocate called on the law to be relaxed, saying: had students been allowed to carry gun in schools, the killer would have been shot and the murderous rage prevented.

  9. During the years when JFK was shot, even owning a fully-automatic submachinegun was available to all US residents; buying guns and ammo by mail was matter-of-fact. Fifteen years ago (October 1991), there was a massacre in Texas inside a Luby Cafeteria – 23 killed, 20 wounded. A woman who survived that hostage-taking/killing lobbied for (and got approval) for Texans to have more rights to carry concealed weapons. Reason : this woman left her .380-pistol in her car (as required by law) when she and her parents entered the public restaurant. Both of her parents were among the 23 killed. The woman (gun-club sharpshooter) had at least 3 instances when she could have shot dead the killer had she carried her pistol with her.
    Today, US citizens and resident aliens (18-years and older; no felonies on record) can still buy handguns (handgun-ammo capacity has to be 16 or less). The last major law — the Brady Bill (an outcome from the Ronald Reagan shooting) — resulted in the requirement for a waiting period. Before, one could go into a gunstore, do the paperwork, pay, then walk out with the gun. Now, one has to wait 5 business-days (for background check) before taking the handgun out of the store.

    The brand-new 9mm Glock that Korean-immigrant-Cho used should be about pesosP28,500.00; add another P1,200 plus-or-minus per extra clip.

  10. What happened in Virginia Tech shocks many simply because the killings happened in a university campus.

    Universities have always been considered by the American public as sacrosanct and safe venues for expressing free speech and tolerance.

    Of course students have been shot dead in a college campus, remember Kent State? But the fact that it happened at Kent State and not on a city street, is really what shocked America.

    People also have been shot dead in churches. Americans were horrified but not to the extent they had in Virgina Tech.

    If 32 people were killed in a McDonald’s CNN would have covered it but not at the level it is covering Virginia Tech now.

  11. What happened in Virginia Tech again triggers many discussions on God (if there is a God) and God’s role (if he chooses to participate) in tragedies:

    One blogger asks what does the Christian Rick Warren really mean when he wries:
    “Because God made you for a reason, he also decided when you would be born and how long you would live. He planned the days of your life in advance, choosing the exact time of your birth and death. The Bible says, ‘You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your book!’ (Psalm 139:16)” -Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life

  12. I don’t believe God has anything to do with the tragedies in human lives. Humans are the ones responsible for the good and the evil that occur in their lives because they’re the ones who made the choice and do the actions. We are responsible for our lives, not God.

    Did people honestly think that by putting more stringent policies for gun ownership could have prevented what happened in Va. Tech? I don’t think so. If the killer couldn’t acquire a gun, a bomb would have sufficed for his plans. He would have had enough time to plan for it, since it was evident on the news that everything he did in the university killings was planned and not spur-of-the-moment attacks. Perhaps he did pick the students he killed at random, but he did plan that he’s going to kill anyone who’s crossed his path. And of course, those whom he had profound hatred.

    I’m for gun ownership but I’m not promoting violence. All I want is to preserve the right to defend oneself. But, of course, with the gun comes great responsibility. Stricter gun ownership policies would be good but to completely strip off citizens of their right to own guns would make them more vulnerable to attacks.

    It is not under the control of the government who amongst the gun owners will turn killer, but some measures could be done to monitor those who seem to have psychological disturbance. But, of course, we all know that the man’s mind is his inner sanctuary and no man or state has the privilege to violate it. And yet, it has to be done. It had to be done carefully and following strict privacy rules.

  13. If anything, the Virginia Tech carnage of innocent lives (minus one) serves to remind us that our’s is not a perfect world, and we have no answer to every human problem. Sometimes, we forget these and we go around agitating and demanding satisfaction of every little thing that we think the world “owes” us. Failing in that, we resort to hatred and spread hate all around, stirring up the violent side of human nature.

    There are countless unstable souls lurking in our society that can easily be pushed over the edge. Right in this blog, there are, from time to time, exhortations to violence and physical cruelty (even outright expressions of ill wishes) against political “enemies”.
    While those who do these may be potential mass killers themselves, having the mindset of the VA Tech monster, they encourage those on the fringes to act on their own violent fantasies.

    I agree with Prudence. Let’s leave God out of the blame game. God can never be a part of anything evil. A contrary argument is repugnant to the concept of GOD.

  14. Cho was a disturbed individual. He showed signs of a serious mental illness and should have been treated for it. It is very easy to pass the blame onto someone else. I am appalled and disgusted by the Media in portraying this subject. I feel that the reporting has gone too far. The victims and their families should be given their dignity during this time of grief. Flashing photos of Cho and of the victims only serve to prolong the grieving process.

  15. We do not have to look up and ask, why God. All we have to do is look around.

    It must have been difficult for Cho to assimilate in the American culture especially when he was growing up in the neighborhood and schools where bullies may have made him anti-social. These bullies must have turned him into a coward with repressed anger. He was just stalking women. Yon lang ang kaya niya. The parents must have been not much of help because they themselves must be struggling with the language and lifestyle in a foreign country. The comparison with the more accomplished sister must have worsened his loser-attitude.

    The Filipinos fare better when it comes to assimilation because of the Filipino community support.

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