I was astonished by the superficiality of the psychological profiles of the so-called experts analyzing the 1800 page manifesto mailed to NBC by the Virginia Tech killer. It’s easy to dismiss these actions as psychotic delusions of grandeur from an individual who had lost touch with reality and ranted against rich kids and religion, but it seems to me they are missing the huge clues that are hidden in plain sight.

I have been unable to find any information about Cho’s family other than the fact that they moved to the US when he was 8. But it was clear that Cho’s anger and rage had been repressed for a long time, something we often see with a conjunction of Mars (aggression) to both Saturn (repression) and Pluto (power struggles) such as Cho had in his chart. The fact that he didn’t speak to anyone at school is quite revealing, as is the fact that after being questioned by police for “bugging” a coed with instant messages (communication) he became suicidal. His only efforts at communication came via his writings. Plays that he wrote in class talked of a pedophilic stepfather that that killed his father. At the end, the stepfather kills the boy.

Newspeople and so-called professional psychologists and FBI profilers have taken Cho’s video rants at face value, saying they are directed at all of us, at rich kids, at no one in particular. But it seems to me the messages are quite clear.

The name on the return label of the package sent to NBC and found in his dorm room is Ismail Ax. Ismail, or Ishmael, was the illegitimate son of Abraham. Ishmael was sent away by Abraham, who favored his son Isaac, and later became a hero of the Islamic religion. I wonder if the “Ax” could be “X” as in “Malcolm X.” Members of the Nation of Islam discarded their “slave names” and took the last name “X” to show that they were a people without a homeland. The combination of these two names denote an individual who is a creature outside of his family, outside of his people. On a sign-in sheet at a school event where other students wrote their name, Cho instead put a question mark.

The alienation experienced by Asian youth who call themselves “generation 1.5” has been widely documented, and if Cho lived with his mother, a brutal stepfather and a new family that would have added to his sense of alienation. As in so many of these cases, Cho and his family are described as “quiet”

Perhaps the rants on the video Cho sent to NBC are really for his parents, for his stepfather with whom he appears to be obsessed. Perhaps it was his desperation for their attention and rage at being muzzled and ignored that ignited the flame of his rage, and in its enormity that rage became subsumed into a general rage at everyone he encountered. When emotions become that powerful in an individual they can no longer be focused merely at the original target and bleed into daily life.

No amount of understanding can ever excuse an action that is hurtful to another, but perhaps we can learn something from understanding the role that abuse can play in the lives of young people.

Update 4/22: Theories are circulating the web is circulating about the significance of “Ismail Ax” – here are just a few:

  • It’s actually Ibrahim’s (Abraham’s) ax after the story where Ibrahim destroyed statutes in a temple.
  • It’s actually Ibrahim’s ax, and that he was asked to slay Ismail rather than Jacob. (This theory is pretty interesting in light of the play Cho wrote where the stepfather kills the young man).
  • Ismail Ax is an anagram for Salami XI (the word salami is derived from the Italian “salare” meaning “to salt” such as salting the earth to kill crops at the end of wars in ancient times.
  • Cho was an Islamic convert and the killing is part of a vast Islamic conspiracy.
  • The name is derived from ISMail, a server for windows.
  • And from the comments section here, Cho took Ismail from the novel Moby Dick.
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