Good Americans

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.

The Discussion: 114 Comments

Sorry everyone, I can’t even read the comments let alone post new material this week. This thread sets a new record for thread drift and all-over-the-placeness. It sure is far different from what I intended it to be.

April 26, 2007 @ 8:59 am | Comment

Snow/Stuart/Iron Buddha

High horses, get off from your high horses.

Yes there are Chinese who are racists and in fact there may be more than less. and yes there are Eskimoes who are racist etc etc. But being more racist given the exposure to foreign cultures and people ,circumstances and history. I beg to differ. How long have the African Americans arrived in America both North and South about 400 years ago.
How long before you gave them full equal rights. About forty years ago. If you venture to Far South in US of A and the same questions you asked of your students now, I am sure due to their culture will spit venom at you. So get off get off you high horses.
Racist yes more racist under the circumstances I am not sure, but acceptable off course not. But give it time , Rome was not buid in a day.

April 26, 2007 @ 11:51 am | Comment

“How long before you gave them full equal rights. About forty years ago.”

“You”? “Them”? So predictable.

April 26, 2007 @ 12:23 pm | Comment

Well Richard I read it again to see if I could pick up on what inspired you to post this piece.

Is what you wanted to say that you are proud that Americans are not hateful towards all Koreans on account that that psycho killer was Korean?

I mean yeah, you’re right, that is great ( : I’m super happy that they didnt react the way Bush reacted after the 911 incident.

That morning of 911 I heard Bush speak and I was genuinely dismayed when I heard him speak right away of retaliation.

The guys in the planes were dead no doubt… I was just surprised that he spoke of retaliation that very morning, he must have had some idea of who carried out the attacks??

Anyway, Yeah, I don’t think counter violence and hatred are productive nor healthy.

Do you think that America should apply the same forgiving principle to Osama Bin or whoever did that 911 attack…?

Forgiveness, hm, that implies harbouring no resentment…thats pretty lofty indeed.

April 26, 2007 @ 12:48 pm | Comment

“”””””””””I cannot tell if that video is false or not. But shortly after the video came out, my colleague saw an incident: A guy took a bottle of sprite out of bag on square, then several police jumped on that guy immediately and took that guy and the bottle away. There were probably more police on square than tourists around that time. People were told not to bring sprite to square to avoid trouble, since it looks like gas. That is why I believe it is true.”””””””””””

Compared with the evidence that ‘false fire’ brings up, this “evidence” that you site is not much eh.

If you want to talk about it though we should probly talk elsewhere since we have to respect the other conversation. Please feel free to post your comments on my blog and I’ll tell you what I think too. Anyway it’s good to know that you think a little ( :

“”””””BTW, I don’t know if all the cases about cutting people’s body to take out wheel on CCTV are true. But I am sure one of them is true. I knew a police who actually involved that case.””””””””

What I have to say to those stories is: what the heck total freak would cut their stomach open? Think about it. That would cause severe damage and possibly death! Thats is absolutely freak and people do not just do that kind of thing right,? So just read the Falun Gong books and you will see there is absolutely nothing there that would promote this psychotic behaviour of self mutilation. They cultivate the body and longevity, healthyness and stuff not to mention mental stability and clarity, so it makes no sense that a Falun Gong person would self mutilate.(much less elf immolate)

“”””””””””””People check out Falung’s stories too. US congress already had conclusion on that Sujiatun camp story. Also there is the famous “withdraw from CCP” joke. And the story about Jiang Zemin begged Master Lee to put off the collapse of China for 5/10/15 years… …””””””””””””””””
Actually the US embassy said they could neither deny nor confirm, they didnt see anything when they were on their CCP guided tour of the hospital, (I’m sure they also didnt check the organ transplant records either)

Begging Master Li,? never heard that one, Quitting CCP joke? whatchu mean?

April 26, 2007 @ 1:04 pm | Comment

>>much less elf immolate

immolate the elf? is that like waxing the dolphin?

I hope richard closes this thread on that note.

April 26, 2007 @ 1:10 pm | Comment

“I know…your penis is the 2394 skyscraper in shanghai, and you can move mountains and flood rivers with your balls”

So you’ve seen my DVD. I assume you bought a legitimate and not a pirated copy?

April 26, 2007 @ 2:23 pm | Comment

Nausicca, sorry! I had my gym appointment and just got home and it’s almost 11 PM and I have, ugh, work to do!

I may put up a link to an excellent New Yorker article though. okay, I’ll try to do that.

April 26, 2007 @ 2:49 pm | Comment

Iron buddha: after reading her mao biography, I am not sure I would believe half of what the Wild Swans’ author has to say. By the way, you do she is a fiction writer don’t you (both books)? Or should I say an anecdote masquerading as academic research writer.

FG – naive and troublesome, bordering on (maybe crossing into) a cult. But that is no excuse for killing them and locking them in jail. The other side of the argument, however, would say they should have known what was coming to them. After all, commit the crime, be ready to do the time is truer in china than anywhere else. and don’t expect no sympathy on the way!

April 26, 2007 @ 4:38 pm | Comment


” I am not sure I would believe half of what the Wild Swans’ author has to say”

Of course you wouldn’t. Denying racism is a national passtime in China.

I live here, I know the score. The burden of proof is on you to show me how racism has been imported into China. Good luck, you’re gonna need it.


I do see examples of Party sponsored racism here. All the posters put up during the African summit featuring wild animals and Africans with speers for example. Not a single picture of an African in a suit anywhere on Wangfujing street. The fact that any Party vetted teaching of evolution studiously avoids the fact that people, including Chinese people, evolved in Africa.

The Party does have an interest in supporting racism. Racism has been used to promote a Chinese sense of uniqueness and superiority as part of their campaign to whip-up nationalism as a substitute for communism, and therefore, support for the Party.

Now, having said that, I know that Party members are regular people and as individuals, I doubt they are especially racist. Therefore, stuff like education on human evolution and the Wangfujing pictures might just as well be a reflection of the inherent racism of party members that is no different from the rest of the racism that pervades this society and not part of a grand scheme to push racist thought.

So, does the party conciously, actively pushing racism? It think they are a bit. It’s in their interest to do so. They are DEFINATELY not doing anything to fight it.

April 26, 2007 @ 10:45 pm | Comment

“”””””””””The other side of the argument, however, would say they should have known what was coming to them. After all, commit the crime, be ready to do the time is truer in china than anywhere else. and don’t expect no sympathy on the way!”””””””””””


Well as I have understood, at the time whent he persecution started there was no crime being committed. Jiang Zemin wanted to use that group as a scape goat and pump himself up within the party, he made up stuff about the Marxists needing to defeat the theist and told the politburo that theism would destroy the party blah blah blah. He sent lots of spies out to check Falun Gong for an excuse but they didnt find any crime. (its pretty easy to believe if you read the book and know what they are following)

Then AFTER the persecution started, Jiang wrote up and anti cult blurb as a law and than totally lawlessly arrested all Falun Gong people and said they were in an “evil cult” without even stating any criteria or any due procedure.

So after he made that blurb, he punished the Falun Gong people retroactively.

When the CCP wants you beaten, it doesnt matter if you have done anything wrong or not, they get the idea and brutally go forward until the people are sufficiently terrorized into submission.

I think Jiang Zemin was just a freak who would be so cold blooded as to use the persecution as a tool for his own reputation as a party hardliner.

And I think the CCP just felt they had to follow him, or they were convinced by his arguments that Falun Gong was trying to bring down the government….

How could the Falun Gong expect to be cracked down on when they were working with the government often to spread the practice and the government was always praising it so on.

Their “crime” “under the CCP” was theism, and if you ask any theist, that simply cant be considered a crime, and should definitely not be called superstitious and evil.

In any case people should be allowed to believe in Buddha and God and strongly as they want as long as they arent being political or fighting and stuff. Just the CCP gets jealous of Buddha and God. Simple as that.

April 26, 2007 @ 11:14 pm | Comment

Oh for gods sake (and I’m an atheist).

It hardly makes sense to compare the US and China, really. The US is by definition an immigrant nation. China, though it has its “ethnic minorities” is not.

There is more overt tension and stress here in the States because people are constantly bumping up against others from very different cultural backgrounds which are not necessarily familiar to them. On the other hand, there is more genuine mixing and acceptance of difference here as well. At my workplace, I interact with people from all over the world, from all kinds of ethnic and cultural backgrounds, and we mostly get along pretty well. Even though the default definition of an American is a person of White European ethnicity, this is becoming less and less the case, and there is room in the definition of an American for people regardless of where they come from or what they look like. That doesn’t mean we live in a multicultural paradise or that there aren’t a lot of tensions, fear and anger, but I’ll still say that a Chinese person can come to America and become “American,” and I’m not so sure that I could come to China and become “Chinese” – though I do think that Chinese culture is way more accepting of this than say, Japanese culture.

When China becomes an immigrant country, then we can have this discussion on a more rational basis. Until then, it’s a pretty silly argument, at least the way that it’s being conducted here.

April 27, 2007 @ 4:13 pm | Comment

And on that note, this thread is about to go to heaven.

April 27, 2007 @ 7:33 pm | Comment

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