August 10, 2017

“What a Fraternity Hazing Death Revealed About the Painful Search for an Asian-American Identity” on New York Times was interesting but I felt that the writer forced two issues that actually have nothing to do with each other. There is no interesting alignment between fraternity hazing and Asian American life. The main issue in this article is about fraternity; why kids are drawn to it despite the numerous bad press and reports of abuse. What is attractive about it for them?

What drew these kids to the fraternity is not anything unique to Asian Americans. The writer tried to force the connection unsuccessfully. Interestingly enough, he says in the article: “Over the past year, I’ve found myself wondering what exactly Kwan might have meant by an ‘Asian perspective.’” That is, the writer himself is also wondering if there is any Asian perspective to this incident.

The kids wanted a sense of belonging, which is irrespective of race. What I find curious, which the article did not address, is why all these fraternities subject the new members to these abusive rituals? What does abuse have to do with sense of belonging?

My wife belonged to a Quaker youth group throughout her young adult life, and they provided the sense of belonging she needed but they did not require any type of harsh treatment. These hazing rituals are quite strange. Just as some child-molesters are unconsciously drawn to Catholic churches, I’m wondering if the people who are drawn to these abusive fraternities have ulterior, unconscious motives, like their sadistic/masochistic impulses.