Somewhere in the blitz of articles and threads and forums going on about the Virginia Tech massacre I saw a prediction that now Americans would turn on South Koreans and lay bare their racism. I never believed it for an instant (what does the shooter’s race have to do with anything?). And when I read this a few minutes go I felt the kind of pride I used to feel as a boy about America, a feeling that, sadly, I haven’t felt in a long time.
The day before yesterday, the Student Government Association of Virginia Tech sent an e-mail of appreciation to the Korean Embassy in the United States, in spite of its own agonies after the horrific massacre at Virginia Tech. In the letter, the students acknowledged their gratitude for the compassion and condolences that President Roh Moo-hyun, the leaders of Korea and other Koreans have demonstrated.
“Our strongest feelings are those channeled towards restoring sanctity and safety for students and people of all ethnicities, faiths, and representations. We are grateful to the Republic of Korea for expressing solidarity in this common pursuit,” read the message from the SGA. It also said, “(The) actions of one man will not and do not serve as a barrier between our students and the people of Korea.”
You can say a lot of negative things about America nowadays, and I’ll agree with many of the criticisms. But it’s still a great country with great people. I know, I know – that sounds trite and mawkish. But that’s okay once in a while. After looking evil in the face, literally, all week, maybe it’s time to take a look at man’s better side, exemplified by these wonderful students.
Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.