Image via WikipediaOkay, it's been all over the news for the last day. I won't bore you by repeating the details, but an Army psychiatrist went nuts at Ft. Hood, Tx. yesterday, went on a killing spree and at last count, 13 are dead. The suspect was taken down and is in the hospital. With any luck, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan will survive to stand trial. If you want to follow the gory details and 24/7 dissection of the minutia, go to the 24/7 news channels, because you won't find it here.
It was no surprise to me to learn that Maj. Hasan is from Vinton, Va., here in the Roanoke Valley. It seems like our region only makes the national news when some bloodbath happens. Hasan joins the ranks of Ronald Gay, (The Backstreet shootings) and Seung-Hui Cho (the Va. Tech massacre) in the Old Dominion Hall of Shame.
There is something about Southwestern Virginia that both attracts and breeds nut jobs like this. Every time it happens, some Virginia politician comes out with a statement saying "this is not what Virginia is about", yet time and time again, we see proof that this is exactly what Virginia is about. In each case it is revealed later that the mentally unstable gunman felt persecuted because of something superficial; Ronald Gay, because of his name; Cho and Hasan because of their ethnicity. In each case the gunman "fell through the cracks" and did not get the medical attention he needed. Virginia's cracks keep getting bigger.
Yes, I know, it's not as simple as all that. But it reflects the general backward thinking in Virginia that people who are different are unacceptable and somehow less deserving of respect and compassion. When you factor in the mental and emotional problems of these guys and the easy access to guns in Virginia, it's no surprise that tragedies like this happen all too frequently here. Each time, Virginians fail to do anything constructive about it.
In the eyes of the world, this is what Virginia is all about. It is up to us, as Virginians to change that.