On Dying In Virginia

I was kind of shocked and saddened to hear about the shooting in Virginia Tech that has dominated western media in the past 48 hours, especially the Internet. I tend to pay close attention to how such incidents unravel in the media and the public eye. The number 30 was splashed across home pages of the BBC and CNN for quite some time and it’s just one of those things where one cannot help but take a step back and realize how important those 30 lives were. I mean for instance 30 is the new 20 in Iraq; daily bombings and slaughters inspire at least that much.

One could easily cast this aside as another orientalist view of the world: that their lives are worth more than our lives. I mean I’m sure it plays a role, after all, a day after the shooting the “30 dead” headline was replaced with “South Korean gunman”, as if origin mattered; as if this was the opportunity the US was waiting for all along to invade North Korea (because their names sound suspiciously similar). But maybe there’s more to it.

In between hoping the gunman isn’t Arab, there is a common denominator to consider.

There’s something to be said about the storm that breaks the quiet; when tranquility is disturbed and replaced with chaos, which of course inspires fear, confusion and anger.

When you’re used to chaos, more of it is simply nothing new. One becomes accustomed to death. If I turned on the TV to hear that there were no new deaths in Occupied Palestine or Iraq or Darfur, then I would rush to the window to make sure the apocalypse wasn’t being ushered in with falling meteors from the sky.

You get used to certain things.

But then Virginia isn’t Palestine.

Virginia isn’t Iraq.

And yes, an American isn’t a Palestinian, isn’t an Iraqi. If anything, the media makes sure to remind us of that time and time again.

The irony of this I suppose is that if anyone on the face of the Earth right now knows what it means to have innocent life taken from them; to know what it feels to have that tranquility disturbed, if anyone right now knows that feeling, those people are in Iraq and Palestine.

The only difference is hope.

The US seems to have plenty of it. There is always that light at the end of the tunnel; the recovery, the moving on, the getting over the initial shock, the coming to terms with it, coming to grips with it.

Here in the Middle East, hope is as scarce as water these days (i.e. roughly half a century to be more accurate). There is no getting over the shock; there’s just not enough time to recover from loss before another comes along to replace it. There are no recovery stories here. No learning-how-to-move-on tales to be told. Yesterday is today; today is tomorrow.

Hope doesn’t live here anymore.

Maybe there should be a cultural exchange: we could teach Americans a thing or two about how to deal with the shock of loss and maybe they could teach us a thing or two about hope.

Being that they control the world supply of hope: maybe they would be kind enough to just lend us some.

Just for the weekend.


  • Dude, it’s been only 24 hours!
    (26 hours to the minute of the time of this comment)
    Ya3ni … you’re the informed dude who’s been keeping up with the news even before it started!

    On a related note, what do you think the mother of Barghothi going to do to him when she talks to him on the phone? “Yamma, next time you hear shooting RUN the OTHER way”

    On a second related note, How do you compare the recent spree of university violence in Jordanian Universities with these incidents in US??

    I’m just glad that I called all my friends from VTech (Yesterday) and made sure everyone’s alright

    (48 huh? … LOL)

  • Qwaider: do you work for swatch or something. 48 hours = 2 days. It happened on Monday and over here Tuesday is about to end. so there’s no need for the sarcasm.

    take a chill pill

  • most entertaining comment on the subject from slashdot (reply to less gun control)
    Look, whatever. The issue at hand isn’t guns. It’s Hypnogenic Ninjitsu.

    If the students had been trained as ninjas with the power to hypnotize their attackers, as provided for by Bob’s Ninjitsu and Hypnosis College, someone could have done the Stare-of-Freezing to that guy early on and saved 30 or more people. Chalk up another bunch of deaths to the anti-Ninja agenda of American citizens by the mommy government. There will be no correction, though; instead of people going “well duh, I should take Hypnogenic Ninjitsu classes in case some crazy bastard shows up in my face somewhere”, they’ll just take a bunch more of your martial arts education away at the schools – restrict your hypnosis lessons, require Ninja-study permission slips, make you wear “guns don’t kill people, Ninjas do” T-shirts, … and a year or so from now, some crazy will do the same thing again, perhaps slightly more cleverly and with more throwing stars.

    and dr. phil blamed it on …………. you win the million dollar prize behind door three ;

    this is amusing 🙂

  • I agree with you about the hope thing, but you also can’t forget the culture of revenge that we live in, Blood is only removed by more blood, it is the “thar” mentality that is deeply rooted in the arab communities that leads to this bloodshed at least between us arabs..On the other hand agression by other powers on arab countries is an ideological thing, it is relegious beliefs that has created this blood shed..They are paving the way for the return and the apocalypse…Bush claims that he gets “phone calls” from god telling him what to do, and sharon got sick because he withdrew from land that is not his!!Lets just hope that logical and moderate people on both side will prevail one day, and by moderates I don’t mean “their” definition of moderates..

  • Qwaider: “But you do love to exaggerate how “connected” and “following the news” you are…”

    yeah I don’t think I’ve ever done that but i’m sure you’re smart enough to find a way to prove me wrong 🙂

    BamBam: there’s a million things to blame it on. lunacy is one.

    Mohanned: how big of a role does the “tha2r” play in Iraq, Palestine or Darfur?

  • I was referring to the killing between ourselves, in iraq:Shite-sunnie
    In palastine: Hamas-fateh
    In darfur: Jenjoid and civilians(christians and muslims)I dont’ have that much knowledge about the darfur conlfict.

  • Mohanned: I disagree about tha2er and the revenge mentality you’re talking about. all these conflicts are political and to a much lesser extent religious and ethnic. revenge is merely a natural byproduct of the vicious cycle any conflict produces.

  • So lets say in iraq for example, a sunnie suicide bomber kills 50 shietes, after that shiets kidnap and kill 5o sunnies so is that revenge, the cause of revenge maybe political or relegious but it is revenge..Lets say the V-tech thing, if this happened in jordan and the shooter was syrian or lets say iraqi what will happen..Maybe no killing but at least there will be stone throwing and some fights here and there..
    Revenge is the act, what behind the act is different..
    “all these conflicts are political and to a much lesser extent religious and ethnic. ”
    But in the later senetnce you said:
    “vicious cycle any conflict produces”

    But our way of revenge is different as arabs, we kill!!

  • you know this gave me a flashback to
    2002-3 I was in my second yr of college, a Universtity of Arizona nursing student killed a couple of his professors and classmates. It was broadcasted nationally in the same way although fewer victims, the inital thought was who was the killer? and even more concerning his background!
    I can relate to the Virginia students only becuase I remember the silence that spread through our campus and city.
    It’s awful but as you said they have hope, they move on.
    I wasn’t a victim or survivor but i had friends who were and those who came close. They moved on,I moved on and I am only reminded when another similar tragedy occurs again, like the one yesterday.

  • Mohanned: like i said revenge is a byproduct, you’re mixing that up with the initial driving force, which is not revenge. there’s an element of revenge behind every driving force. one could argue the a-bomb was revenge for pearl harbor as many anti-japanese posters in america circa 1945 claimed. or that iraq was revenge for 9/11. but thats another digression all together.

    Qwaider: i was going to ask when were you ever on a mission ‘to get me’ and why wasn’t i informed, but i guess those are both rhetorical questions and besides the point. glad your friends are safe as well.

    aftehar: sorry to hear about your loss.

  • Nas, tis true that news like this are pefect scapegoats for reporting less on Iraq and less on Gaza. CNN has made optimum use of today’s “most heart wrenching developing story” to sweep reports on ongoing Iraq killings under the rug.

    I never thought of myself as the type of person that would ever partake in any popular craze such as blogging (no hidden put downs here or implications whatsoever! power to you OB’s (Old Bloggers)) hehe, but upon learning about the virginia tech shootings and the manner in which US media responded, I felt it was high time I had an immediate platform to engage about things that stirred up atleast some personal reaction/opinion of mine. Check out my first ever blog post!
    hala 3ammi.

  • Yep Aftehar even though not 5 years have passed and we still ignor the “Code Orange” and the “Code Green” and the “Code Yellow” threats they call every other day!

  • Kadabbi and nas,
    I think anna nicole had more share in coverage than iraq and even bush himself in his whole term, the media here is just a tool, and the majority of americans are too lazy to look for facts or truths, so they just take whatever the media feeds them..Anyway, guess what the guy is called?
    friggin GUNMAN; if one of his korean friends made a phone call by mistake to a random muslim guy the whole thing would have turned out to be terror..And you know whats more funny, arab media made a hero of the arab student who took some shots..And you know what the arab media also liked?
    The lover of paul wolfwitz turned out to be an arab..We got even with him for invading iraq by making an arab woman have an affair with him, she did it for our arab and muslim causes..
    Are we that stupid?

  • This shooting at Virginia Tech is just what CNN needed. After all, people were starting to wear down with news of Anna Nichole, Donald vs. Rosie, and all the other gayness that appears on Western news during a slump.

    The ironic thing is that Americans tend to wake up when it hits close to home, but can easily ignore greater acts of violence elsewhere. Apathy is the glove into which evil slips its hand. The searing of a man’s conscience is, in the end, just as deadly as an exploding bomb in a crowd of innocent people.

    Actually, this isn’t really just an American problem. It’s an everywhere problem. Most people in the world could care less about what is happening in other parts of the world, as long as it’s not happening to their family or in their own backyard.

  • Dave…. I agree that people usually don’t care about other human beings as longas it doesn’t affect them. But the war in IRaq affects Americans and will affect them in the future a LOT. I’m not talking about the 3000 soldiers killed and the others injured and disabled, I’m talking about the hatred to America that has risen up to enormous levels in the Arab World and elsewhere. Yes America was not “very popular” in the Middle East before but the degree of hatred now is beyond imagination. On the other hand this war is costing America and the majority of American citiziens a lot economically.

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