An American Tragedy

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An American Tragedy

Post by Guysanto » Wed Apr 18, 2007 12:13 pm

What happened at Virginia Tech Monday morning is absolutely terrifying. Here at Windows on Haiti, we feel extremely bad for the victims' families and loved ones. But, by the grace of God, as they say, it could have been any one of us.

However, it is extremely urgent to draw the right lessons from this tragedy that will help us avert other ones that may be in the offing. What are those lessons? That's a question for this open forum. We do not claim to have the answers ourselves. However, we firmly believe that some links can be established.

An obvious one is adolescent and young adult Depression.

Another is America's culture of Armed Violence and Warmongering.

We need to place the Virginia Tech Tragedy in a global human context. What happened tragically on one American campus is what happens EVERY SINGLE DAY in Baghdad or other places in Iraq. Yet, for the most part, because it is a daily occurrence, too many of us have become desensitized to the news of 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 100 (and sometimes more) Iraqis being killed in a single day (and every day) of warfare that unfortunately was brought about by the direct actions of the current U.S. administration. President Bush's first reaction to the news of what happened in Virginia was described as "being horrified", and justifiably so. But where is the sense of this President and all the proponents of war in America about the horrors of violence that they often mete out to other societies? America's culture of violence must be addressed. We cannot continually wage violence and expect a peaceful society. The harm we do to others will be revisited upon us.

There are other lessons to be explored, such as the sheer ability in U.S. society for a 23-year old deranged young man to go out and buy two super deadly semi-automatic pistols. Let's talk about all of this.

For us, however, the main point is that as a society we need to begin to STOP ALL THE SENSELESS VIOLENCE, not just in the U.S. but in remote corners of U.S. influence in the world.

And in corners not so remote... such as Cité Soleil and other slums of Haiti. And all around us.

We do not know much about the forgery of links between "9/11" and the War on the Iraqis. But one thing we know for certain: All human violence is connected. It will not do us much good to keep looking at it selectively.

Peace to all who suffer from terror.

Guy S. Antoine
Windows on Haiti

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Post by Leoneljb » Wed Apr 18, 2007 5:06 pm

Amazingly tragic!

The shooter was also a Victim.

Victim of not being treated properly. Victim of gun dealers who would give guns to a kid no matter what.

One can get any gun on the internet for a couple of hundreds. NRA and GREED???

Yes indeed, we are tasting a little bit of Iraq.

There are a lot of lunatics with guns. It's a matter of time.

Pi ta pi tris,


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A Statement from the International Action Center

Post by Guysanto » Wed Apr 18, 2007 10:12 pm

A Statement from the International Action Center

Why Virginia Tech shootings happened

Yet another rampage has occurred at a school, this time leaving 33 people dead at Virginia Tech—the worst such incident ever at a U.S. college campus.

The news media seem stunned and surprised, yet their coverage sounds so similar to the stories about Columbine eight years ago. They dwell on the personality of the young man the police say did the shooting, before killing himself. They talk about him being a “loner,” depressed, perhaps angry at women.

But aren't there lonely and depressed people all over the world? Many countries have high suicide rates. Why is it that here some become mass murderers?

The U.S. is the world leader in seemingly random acts of violence by individuals. Why?

President George W. Bush rushed to Virginia to speak at a large convocation the day after the killings and tried to set the tone for what could be said about them. “It's impossible to make sense of such violence and suffering,” he said.

Don't ask why, don't try to understand. It makes no sense. “Have faith” instead, was Bush's message.

But there ARE reasons these things happen here, and they are pretty clear to the rest of the world. It's just in the United States that no one is supposed to talk about the reasons.

What distinguishes this country from the rest of the world? It is neither the most affluent nor the poorest. It is neither the most secular nor the most religious. It is not the most culturally homogeneous nor is it the most diverse.

But in one area, it stands virtually alone. It has the biggest arsenal of high-tech weaponry in the world, way surpassing every other country. It has military bases spread all over; most countries have no troops outside their borders.

It is conducting two hot wars at the moment, in Iraq and Afghanistan, and has sent hundreds of thousands of troops abroad over the last few years. Every day, the public here is supposed to identify with soldiers who burst into homes in Baghdad, round up the people and take them away for “interrogation”—which everyone knows now can mean torture and indefinite detainment.

It also sends heavily armed “special ops” on secret missions to countless other countries, like the ones who just facilitated the invasion and bombing of Somalia, or the ones who have been trying to stir up opposition in Iran. This is documented in the news media.

The immense brutality of these colonial wars, as well as earlier ones, is praised from the White House on down as the best, the ONLY way to achieve what the political leaders and their influential, rich backers decide is necessary to protect their world empire. Do lots of people get killed? “Stuff happens,” said former war secretary Donald Rumsfeld. “Collateral damage,” says the Pentagon.

At home, the U.S. has the highest rate of incarceration in the world. Over 2 million people are locked up in the prison system each year, most of them people of color. When commercial armed security guards are also taken into consideration, the U.S. has millions of employees who use guns and other coercive paraphernalia in their jobs.

In the final analysis, the military and the police exist to perpetuate and protect this present unjust system of capitalist inequality, where a few can claim personal ownership over a vast economy built by the sweat and blood of hundreds of millions of workers.

And the more divided, the more polarized the society becomes, the higher the level of coercion and violence. Assault weapons are now everywhere in this society, as are Tasers, handcuffs, clubs and tear gas. They most often start out in the hands of the police, the military and other agents of the state, and can then turn up anywhere.

Violence is a big money maker in the mass culture. Television, films, pulp novels, Internet sites, video games—all dwell on “sociopaths” while glorifying the state's use of violence, often supplemented by a lone vigilante. By the time children reach their teens, they have already seen thousands of murders and killings on television. And these days even more suspense is added in countless programs that involve stalking and terror against women—and increasingly children.

As the Duke rape case and so many “escort service” ads show, women of color are particularly subject to exploitation and have little recourse to any justice. And as the murders along the border show, immigrants of color are fair game for racist killers.

The social soil of capitalism can alienate and enrage an unstable and miserable person who should be getting help but can't find it. If, as reports are saying, the young man accused of these killings was on anti-depressant medication, it is all the more evidence that, at a time when hospitals are closing and health care is unavailable for tens of millions, treating mental health problems requires more from society than just prescribing dubious chemicals.

Many liberal commentators are taking this occasion to renew the demand for tougher gun laws. Yes, assault weapons are horrible, but so are bunker buster bombs, helicopters that fire thousands of rounds a minute, and the ultimate—nuclear weapons. Disarming the people is not the answer, especially when the government is armed to the teeth and uses brutality and coercion daily.

The best antidote to these tragedies is to build a movement for profound social change, a movement directed at solving the great problems depressing so much of humanity today, whether they be wars or global climate change or the loneliness of the dog-eat-dog society.

International Action Center- 55 West 17th St, 5C, New York, NY 10011

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Post by Anacaona » Thu Apr 19, 2007 8:21 am

In the wake of the tragedy at Virginia Tech, I have been thinking about the danger faced by students across campus in America due to the lack of diligence by school staffers when problems arise. From what I get in the whole story, here you have a student who has been stalking students on campus and still he was allowed to live in the dorm. Even though I have no idea of how housing staffers deal with residential problems, this incident at VA Tech just adds to my growing list of frustrations with dormitory authorities.

This whole incident gave me an opportunity to reflect back on my experience living in the dorm at Stony Brook University. When I decided to move to a better place on campus, (I say better because my first housing assignment on campus was horrible. There was mold growing in my bedroom and it did not seem to concern any housing staff member. The list of inhumane conditions is bigger than that, but that's not my point.) I was placed in a single apartment in a brand new place with five other female students. One of my suite mates (she was the Resident Assistant, and her job was to make sure that everyone abides to the rules of campus for the safety of one another) was the one breaking all the rules.

First, she had her boyfriend living in the apartment illegally. That did not bother the housing office even though he was not a student at Stony Brook and in spite of his unacceptable behavior. Complaints made to the office directly in charge of her remained unanswered. But it was not until a morning in May of 2005 that things took a turn for the worse. In the middle of my morning sleep, I heard a noise as if the wall next to my bed was coming down on me. I was disoriented because that big noise of their fighting and hitting the wall woke me up. I was upset and decided to report them to the main office. Well, they took no action against them.

Then, in the fall semester of 2005, the same thing happens again, and I took it upon myself to report them to the office. No one cared about what I had to say. All my complaints were left unanswered. Among other things being done by this pair in the apartment was smoking pot. It got to a point were I was really scared for my life because nothing was being done about my complaints and to make matter worse, they stopped talking to me in the apartment.

Then, at the end of May 2006, there was a robbery in one of the dorms and we were all advised to take cautionary action for our own protection. Then to my surprise that same week, while I was doing laundry, guess who I caught with a key to the apartment, that illegal resident (note that her key can open all the doors in the apartment). This time, it was the last straw and I sent an email this time to the one in charge of all the dorms on campus and finally, my prayer was answered. Within a week, the office directly in charge of my dorm was forced to arrange a meeting between the two of us. Then, they asked her to control herself in the apartment, but to my surprise, at the end of the week, she was kicked out of the apartment.

So, all I want to say, it took the residential staff at SBU over a year to solve the problem. My whole experience proved to me that they do not really care about students' conditions of living once they collect their monthly/semester rent. What I realize is that these things can happen anytime because of a lack of responsibility of housing officials. And in the wake of this incident at VA Tech, all I can say is what if…?


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Post by Guysanto » Thu Apr 19, 2007 8:56 am

Ana! Thank you so much for your personal testimony. I think that it has the potential to help a lot of other students, who will see the urgent need for early prevention and persistent action. In the end, you did everybody a favor though I am sure you were not well liked for it. Again, what if the boyfriend turned out to be a lunatic who would endanger everyone's life because of a dispute with his girlfriend?

To echo what you are said, I live one block from Seton Hall University in South Orange. You may remember the huge fire that was set there a few years ago which resulted in lost lives and multiple serious injuries among the dormitory students. The case against the young arsonists is still pending (justice appears to be excruciatingly slow on occasion), but all of that could have been avoided if the students had respected the dormitory rules in the first place. Sometimes, partying takes precedence with disastrous effects.

Thanks once again. I value your personal experience and your idealism. You may have saved some lives, without even knowing.

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