Sunday, April 22, 2007

Best Piece on Va. Tech

Sarah Baxter has written the best piece I've seen so far on Virginia Tech. It should embarrass psychiatrists who insist on viewing Cho's rage as the product of repressed homesexuality. The shrinks are right to focus on feelings of being unmanly, but these are much less repressed than they think and don't necessarily have to do with fear of confronting homosexual feelings.

In any case, Camille Paglia weighs in, arguing "Women have difficulty understanding the mix of male sexual aggression with egotism and the ecstasy of self-immolation."

I don't know about self-immolation, but I think Paglia's onto something about misunderstanding male aggression. Modern liberalism may not give it its due.

Paglia is also right to compare American campuses to resorts and to argue that "there is nothing happening educationally in these boring prisons that are fondly called suburban high schools. They are saturated with a false humanitarianism, which is especially damaging for boys." Paglia continues in arguing that we neglect manliness: "Young men have enormous energy. There was a time when they could run away, hop on a freighter, go to a factory and earn money, do something with their hands. Now there is this snobbery of the upper-middle-class professional. Everyone has to be a lawyer or paper pusher."

More importantly, Paglia adds, "The pervasive hook-up culture at college, where girls are prepared to sleep with boys they barely know or fancy, can be a source of seething resentment and alientation for those who are left out. Young women now seem to want to behave like men and have sex without commitment. The signals they are giving are very confusing, and rage and humiliation build up in boys who are spurned again and again. The sex is everywhere but it is not erotic. It's not even titilating. It's banal and debasing."

Baxter also snagged some good quotes from Francis Fukuyama, who compares Middle Eastern terrorists with Cho. According to Fukuyama, "It really is young men between 15 and 30 who are responsible for the vast majority of crimes, although it is politically incorrect to say this too loudly. [Suicide bombers and Cho] fall into the same demographic of young males, a lot of whom are unemployed, without a clear place in the social hierarchy. these guys have the most to gain and the least to lose by martyrdom. [Often they are upset about girls]whose attention they can't get."

I suspect the psychiatrists have something to add as well, given reports about Cho's parents devoting so much attention to making ends meet and about Cho's mother having been obliged to look after her own siblings. Who knows what kind of resentment she may have harbored at being forced to start her own family at a later age than she might have liked and not with the man she might have preferred. Who knows also if and how this influenced her relationship with her son.

Maleness is crucial to this though, as Fukuyama says -- and not exactly in ways that the psychiatrists may think.


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