Is the Media Biased?

Canadian Universities Forum (discussion group)

Subject: Is the Media Biased?
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) ? Before his age, his hometown or his name, America learned one thing about the Virginia Tech shooter ? he was Asian. That characterization has bristled activists who say the swift focus on ethnicity shows decades-old suspicions of Asian-Americans linger.

The Korean community joins America in mourning the deaths of 32 students and teachers at the Blacksburg campus. But activists see the identification of Virginia Tech gunman Cho Seung-Hui as shaded to emphasize that he was South Korean ? as if his 15 years living in the United States didn?t count ? and the rush to describe him by race, not by his physical features the way a white suspect might have been.

?When I heard that the suspect was Asian, I was just like, I know what?s going to happen,? said Tamara Nopper, a Korean-American advocate who teaches courses on race at Temple University in Philadelphia. ?For a while, all they had was ?It?s an Asian man, it?s an Asian man.??

Early news reports identified Cho, 23, as Asian, and later, when his identity was learned, South Korean.

Nopper echoed a common sentiment among minorities: If one member of the group commits a crime, America holds the entire community accountable.

?When Timothy McVeigh bombed the Oklahoma City building, and when George Bush sends bombs to Iraq ... you don?t see white people feeling the need to have to apologize,? Nopper said. ?People of color are often seen as having some sort of connection to each other. ... White people don?t have that burden.?

References to Cho?s race diminished after Tuesday. But for some Asian-Americans, the damage was done.

At, a group called ?I?m Korean and Have a Gun, Don?t Be Scared,? had 81 members. At Asian-aimed social sites like, many questioned whether a white shooter?s race would have factored.

C.N. Le, director of Asian and Asian-American Studies at the University of Massachusetts, questioned whether even a black suspect would have been handled similarly.

He pointed to black leaders who challenge negative media portrayals of that community, and triggered CBS to fire radio host Don Imus this month following racial comments against black basketball players.

?Asian-Americans don?t have that kind of political clout on a national level ? we don?t have a version of Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton,? Le said.

Janice Lee, deputy executive director of the Asian-American Journalists Association, issued a media advisory against race-heavy references to Cho. She also cautioned against common stereotypes creeping into media coverage.

?Some of it was ?Oh, there must have been cultural pressures, there must have been language fluency barriers? ? we didn?t know all of that,? she said. ?People drew such immediate connections.?

In Los Angeles this week, activist Eun-Sook Lee tallied phone calls to her group, the National Korean American Service and Education Consortium. Some sought comment; a caller to one of the group?s community centers swore and yelled.

?Never should the actions of one individual reflect an entire community,? she said. ?It?s not put on the white community when something like Columbine happens.?

(in reply to: Is the Media Biased?)
Dude, Americans are a bunch of cowboys. Its the wild west in the southern states. When will people realise this? If it was not for the immigrants, the States would still be like it was 150 years ago. Pow pow!

(in reply to: Is the Media Biased?)
yeah the asshole media is always like that
(in reply to: Is the Media Biased?)
Gunman´s family moved to give son better life
Left South Korea in 1992; ´His needs could be bound by his culture, his class´

Allison Hanes
National Post

Thursday, April 19, 2007

CREDIT: Brent Foster, National Post
Virginia Tech students yesterday gather to remember classmates killed in Monday´s campus shootings.

CREDIT: Brent Foster, National Post
A student attends a prayer session on campus in Blacksburg, Va., yesterday. The family of gunman Cho Seung-hui left South Korea in 1992 and now live in Centerville, Va.

From a tiny basement apartment in suburban Seoul to a tidy townhouse in small-town Virginia, the family of Cho Seung-hui seemed to be striving for a piece of the American dream before they were thrust into infamy by his murderous shooting rampage.

Yesterday, the world´s media were encamped outside the bland beige house in Centerville, Va., where the 23-year-old killer grew up, searching for any hint of what might have motivated him to kill 32 people on Monday at Virginia Tech before turning the gun on himself.

Inside, his parents, father Cho Seong-tae and mother Cho Hyang- ai, were hunkered down in grief or had fled the onslaught.

Little is known about the family except this: They left South Korea in 1992 "because it is difficult to live here," according to the newspaper Chosun Ilbo, which interviewed their former landlord.

They arrived in the United States via Detroit in 1992, with their elder daughter, Sun-kyung, and Seung-hui, then aged eight. The parents toiled long hours at a dry cleaning business, spoke little English and sent their children to elite universities.

What led Mr. Cho to kill may never be known, but it appears he alarmed roommates at Virginia Tech with his stony silence, horrified classmates by turning in gruesome creative writing assignments and aroused the suspicions of police after two women complained he was a stalker.

But a Korean student in Canada -- while horrified by his inexcusable acts -- says she understands all too well the possible sources of his isolation.

Laura Kwak, president of the Korean Students Association of Canada and a sociology student at Queen´s University in Kingston, imagines Cho grew up in the pressure cooker of what she calls the "model immigrant" conundrum.

Asians in North America are perceived as quiet, obedient, likely to excel in science and shoo-ins for such highly competitive fields as finance, technology or medicine, she said. These are all assumptions that lead to their own form of racism.

Besides the external myths, many Koreans also face enormous family pressures to succeed at all costs.

"My parents were immigrants and when they moved here they had nothing, maybe 25 or 30 bucks. Their family values made them work hard and try to give me and my brother a life they wouldn´t have had," said Ms. Kwak, 23, who was born in Toronto.

"It´s a very Korean ´My children are my world´ mentality. My parents won´t even go on vacation."

Caught between the social myths and the cultural expectations, life can be unbearably lonely for those who step out of line.

"I know what it´s like to be excluded by Caucasian people and my own community," said the sociology and women´s studies major, her voice cracking with emotion.

"I wish I was able to talk to [Cho] and say, ´You´re not alone and I know it really sucks.´ "

Alienation can also grow, said Michelle Cho, a co-ordinator at Toronto´s Urban Alliance for Race Relations, in the gulf that sometimes develops within immigrant families. As the parents cling to traditional ways, their children begin to identify more closely with the dominant culture that doesn´t always accept them.

Sometimes the generation gap can be worsened by a language barrier within the family, where the children speak English and the parents do not.

"You grow up in a family that teaches certain values, and yet you can be worlds apart," Ms. Cho. said

"It´s a multiplicity of things. It shouldn´t just be about pathologizing the immigrant experience, but at the same time we have to try to understand why there is such high levels of depression within communities that doesn´t get talked about and yet is directly related to issues around racism and exclusion."

Rick Sin, a professor of Social Work at McMaster University in Hamilton, says there is not enough information about the killer´s formative years to draw conclusions about his motives.

While racism and the immigrant experience are known to be social determinants of mental illness, he said Cho´s apparent suicide note mentioned his resentment of rich boys and may have been more about class than culture.

Prof. Sin said the more important question is how, despite all the warning signs and the efforts of roommates, police and teachers, Cho slipped through the cracks.

"Were those programs and services not really sensitive to his needs?" he asked. "His needs could be bound by his culture, by his class, by his experiences as an immigrant."

Whatever may have fuelled Cho´s homicidal urges, his sister turned out very differently.

Sun-kyung Cho graduated from Princeton University in 2004 with a degree in economics, The Daily Princetonian reported yesterday. According to a report in the Washington Post, she is now a contractor working with the U.S. State Department on Iraq reconstruction. She wrote her graduate thesis on ethnic enclaves and wage earning among Korean immigrants in California and in 2003 she was featured in an article for the Princeton Weekly Bulletin detailing her summer internship at the U.S. embassy in Bangkok, where she was observing "actual labour conditions in a developing country."

"They were the most amazing three months of my life," she said.

"I think it is always easy for Americans to maintain an American way of life abroad. The best thing is to avoid these traps and go out there and immerse yourself in a new culture."


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