Friday, April 20, 2007
Over at The American Thinker is a piece by one James Lewis that asks a worthwhile question about the Blacksburg Massacre: "Was Cho taught to hate?" Unfortunately, the essay threatens to help discredit intellectual criticism of the multiculturalist movement as ignorant and hysterical if the following fit of slap-dash research and knee-jerk conservatism is any indication:
I wonder if Cho took the senior seminar by Professor Knapp, on "The self-justifying criminal in literature." Because he certainly learned to be a self-justifying criminal. Or whether he sat in courses with Nikki Giovanni, using her famous self-glorifying book, "The Prosaic Soul of Nikki Giovanni (2003)". Maybe he read Professor Bernice Hausman's "Changing Sex: Transsexualism, technology, and the idea of gender" -- just the thing for a disoriented young male suffering from massive culture shock on the hypersexual American campus. And even more gender-bending from Professor Paul Heilker, who wrote "Textual Androgyny, the Rhetoric of the Essay, and the Politics of Identity in Composition (or The Struggle to Be a Girly-Man in a World of Gladiator Pumpitude)." Or the Lesbian love stories of Professor Matthew Vollmer. Yup, that's just what this student needs. These trophy "art works" are all advertised on the English Department faculty websites.[bold and link to listing of Knapp seminar added]This use of the portion of the above passage in bold is sloppy at best, unjust at worst, and wrong, period. (The rest of it strikes me as irrelevant even if correct.) I have never met Dr. Knapp, but I hazard to guess that were she a Marxist, or someone who glorified criminals, or a multiculturalist, she would not have been included among the list of speakers at this year's Objectivist Summer Conference. (Her full name is Shoshana Milgram Knapp.)
The author's overall point, that multiculturalism had something to do with this mass murder, is right, but this paragraph utterly fails to support his point. Indeed, you'd be better off reading Objectivist commentary (e.g., by Dr. Michael Hurd or Nick Provenzo) to begin to get an inkling of how multiculturalism actually contributed to this atrocity.
If there is one thing worse than to be wrong about the cause of a serious problem (of which Cho is merely a symptom), it is to discredit the correct explanation, thereby hindering the search for the truth. This can only make it harder to prevent the "next one".
Mr. Lewis could begin correcting course by offering a public apology to Dr. Knapp and to anyone else whose views he implicitly mischaracterized on the strength of his quick skim through the Virginia Tech web site. If the ideas being taught to college students make such mayhem possible -- and I think some of them do -- then one should be far more careful when identifying them.