For martyrdom goes beyond fame, and it’s obvious that Cho wanted something besides infamy—he wanted the public to listen to his worldview. His irrational agenda wasn’t so different from the agenda that Islamist terrorists sometimes recite in their own martyrdom videos: to wit, we drove him to act through the various bad things that we do. Cho, just like some Islamist terrorists, wanted us to blame ourselves for his killing, and to change our behavior.
Cho will inspire future mass murderers, who can see in his media hijacking an effective way to punish society and to achieve a sensational airing of their disordered worldviews. And while Americans (likely including a few of the next generation’s potential killers) have been glued to their TVs and computer screens all week, they’re not the only ones. Cho’s carefully planned performance made global news.
The jihadists out there somewhere, already expert at manipulating our media, have learned a valuable lesson. They don’t have to accomplish another 9/11 to win the media time that they need to manipulate the target audience: the American people. They just need to kill 40 or so of us in the right place, at the right time, and not before express-mailing to NBC the video explaining how and why we drove them to it.
This article originally appeared in The City Journal