Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Quotes From Around Yon Blogosphere

People pay their respects at a makeshift memorial in Bucharest
for Romanian-born Liviu Librescu, a Virginia Tech professor
and Holocaust survivor killed in the massacre. More here.

As with every American tragedy, we are about to learn all sorts of "lessons" in the aftermath of the VT shootings. And true to form, most of these lessons will be hastily implemented versions of pre-existing agendas, shoddily conceived, and in the long run, more painful than the tragedy itself. It is a uniquely American form of grieving, completely predictable, and equally difficult to stop.

And in case you doubt me, the "lessons" we "learned" from 9/11 have us in Iraq. Think about that for a minute.


So here we go again; we all know the drill by now. Politicians of all stripes will offer their "thoughts" and "prayers" to the victims’ families. . . .

This is what happened after two twisted kids shot up the Columbine high school on April 20, 1999. We witnessed the national wringing of hands, the convening of symposia and the ritual assignations of blame – and now we'll do it again, of course, before settling back into our routines until the next massacre provides a temporary jolt.

But in that spring of 1999, we also witnessed something that we are not likely to see replicated this spring, in the aftermath of the Virginia Tech shootings: The spectacle of elected Democrats clamoring to crack down on the easy purchase of over-the-counter weaponry. Those days are over. The gun-rights lobby has prevailed. The rest of the western world is decrying the American "gun culture" this afternoon, but the Democrats wouldn't dare.


I keep hearing from U.S. politicians and the U.S. mass media that the "situation is improving" in Iraq. The profound sorrow and alarm produced in the American public by the horrific shootings at Virginia Tech should give us a baseline for what the Iraqis are actually living through. They have two Virginia Tech-style attacks every single day.

Virginia Tech will be gone from the headlines and the air waves by next week this time in the US, though the families of the victims will grieve for a lifetime. But next Tuesday I will come out here and report to you that 64 Iraqis have been killed in political violence. And those will mainly be the ones killed by bombs and mortars. They are only 13% of the total; most Iraqis killed violently, perhaps 500 a day throughout the country if you count criminal and tribal violence, are just shot down. Shot down, like the college students and professors at Blacksburg. We Americans can so easily, with a shudder, imagine the college student trying to barricade himself behind a door against the armed madman without. But can we put ourselves in the place of Iraqi students?


Photograph by Vadim Ghirda/The Associated Press

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