by JULIE HA
In the aftermath of the frightening rampage near the UC Santa Barbara campus on Friday that left seven people dead, including the suspected killer, some Asian Americans are starting to ask: What role did race play in his horrific incident?
That’s because Elliot Rodger, the 22-year-old Santa Barbara City College student authorities identified as the killer, is of Asian descent on his mother’s side, and may have harbored some deep self-hatred of that Asianness, based on the chilling 140-page manifesto he left behind. In addition, three of his victims were Asian American, including his two roommates, whom he called “repulsive” and “the biggest nerds I had ever seen.” Authorities say Rodger killed them, along with a third Asian male who may have been a visitor, at their shared apartment before heading out in his car with his multiple, legally purchased guns and ammunition and seeking out additional targets. All six killed by Rodger were UCSB students. More than a dozen were also wounded in the incident.
“What Role Did Elliot Rodger’s ‘Eurasian’ Status Play in His Rampage?” read the headline of Korean American writer Philip Chung’s blog on the YOMYOMF website. “Elliot Rodger’s manifesto shows self-hate fueled anti-Asian violence that kicked off Isla Vista rampage,” wrote Asian American journalist Emil Guillermo on his blog on the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund’s website.
Elliot Rodger was the son of Lichin Rodger, reportedly ethnically Chinese from Malaysia, and Peter Rodger, who is white and served as an assistant director on The Hunger Games. The Los Angeles Times reported that Elliot grew up privileged in the Southern California cities of Calabassas and Woodland Hills, and that his parents suspected he had some kind of autism spectrum disorder and had been in therapy since childhood. The newspaper also reported that Elliot had declined to take prescribed psychotropic drugs. The day of the killings, his parents, who are divorced, were apparently urgently trying to find their son, after reading a cryptic email he sent to them and one of Elliot’s therapists, the Times reported.
In Elliot’s manifesto, he described himself as a sexually frustrated young man who was being repeatedly rejected by women—in particular, the white, blonde women he coveted and whose attention he seemed to feel entitled to—and how angry he got when he witnessed “full-blooded” Asian males getting that attention.
“Rodger didn’t like being Asian, and he saw it as a flaw in his quest for women–especially his preference. The murderer preferred blondes,” wrote Guillermo in his blog. Guillermo cited comments like this in Rodger’s manifesto, which is full of both misogynistic and racist ranting:
I came across this Asian guy who was talking to a white girl. The sight of that filled me with rage. I always felt as if white girls thought less of me because I was half-Asian, but then I see this white girl at the party talking to a full-blooded Asian. I never had that kind of attention from a white girl! And white girls are the only girls I’m attracted to, especially the blondes. How could an ugly Asian attract the attention of a white girl, while a beautiful Eurasian like myself never had any attention from them? I thought with rage.
Chung, in his YOMYOMF blog, notes that “Rodger seems to have completely tipped over to the other side—rejecting his Asianness while holding up his whiteness as something that should automatically give him access to what he thinks he rightly deserves, in this case, the blonde white women he’s attracted to.”
“Perhaps he was just another lonely and troubled man—a self-described “victim” who felt his only recourse was to lash out and blame everyone else for his situation instead of taking responsibility for his own misogyny, racism and misplaced sense of privilege,” Chung wrote. “But I think the truth is more complicated than that ….”
A complete list of the victims killed in the shooting can be found here: http://m.nydailynews.com/news/national/names-faces-elliot-rodger-victims-article-1.1805488
Editor’s Note: The links from this story were not working properly at the time this blog was filed. Here are the links referenced in this article, in the order they appear:
Photo via AP.