Looking Back on a Tragedy at California’s Oikos U.

An article in The New York Times Magazine explores the story of One L. Goh, the Korean national and former student at Oikos University, in Oakland, Calif., who was charged with killing seven people in a shooting on the campus a year ago. A judge declared Mr. Goh mentally unfit to stand trial earlier this year. Two days after the shooting, the article’s author sent Mr. Goh a letter in Korean, and visited him in jail three days later.

I learned about the Oikos shooting shortly after it happened from a Korean friend who communicated the whole thing in a one-line e-mail: “We did it again.” I knew what he was talking about the moment I read it. “We,” indeed, had done “it” again, and “it” required no further explanation. We first did it five years earlier, on April 16, 2007, when Seung-Hui Cho massacred 32 people at Virginia Tech University. This phrase may sound cynical and callous, but it speaks to a truth shared among immigrants whose people have done terrible things. Nothing quite welds a group together as immediately and as forcefully as these moments of collective trauma.

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