Elliot Rodger's manifesto shows self-hate fueled anti-Asian violence that kicked off Isla Vista rampage

May 25, 2014 11:49 PM

I thought I was pretty hardened after my cousin Stephen Guillermo's recent shooting death. But when I heard about the Isla Vista rampage and the 7 dead and 13 wounded, I realized Stephen's case was just a subset of the larger picture of gun violence in America. 

Once you've experienced the pain and senselessness of it all, mass murders like Isla Vista  are just too much to bear. 

And then there's the race dimension. That the killer, Elliot Rodger, was half-Asian (Chinese on his mother's side) probably wasn't the first thing you heard as people analyze root causes for his actions over this Memorial Day weekend. But if you read his manifesto, it certainly makes the point loud and and clear. 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. 


Women and sex, or the lack of them, was what life was all about for Rodger, a self-described un-kissed virgin at age 22. 

Race definitely played a part, along with class and misogyny, in Rodger's "Day of Retribution," his revenge for his "miserable, lonely, celibate life." 

It's all in his 137-page "manifesto," a late cry for help in the age of the narcissistic internet. 

Rodger's roots are exposed in this verbal "selfie." In it, Rodger chronicles the evolution of a young man's awkwardness from adolescence to young adult. It's a half-Asian kid assessing his self-worth--at age nine. And it's not pretty:

I realized, with some horror, that I wasn't "cool" at all. I had a dorky hairstyle, I wore plain and uncool clothing, and I was shy and unpopular. I was always described as the shy boy in the past, but I never really thought my shyness would affect me in a negative way, until this point. 

This revelation about the world, and about myself, really decreased my self-esteem. On top of this was the feeling that I was different because I am of mixed race. I am half White, half Asian, and this made me different from the normal fully-white kids that I was trying to fit in with. I envied the cool kids, and I wanted to be one of them. I was a bit frustrated at my parents for not shaping me into one of these kids in the past. They never made an effort to dress me in stylish clothing or get me a good-looking haircut. I had to make every effort to rectify this. I had to adapt. 

"My first act was to ask my parents to allow me to bleach my hair blonde. I always envied and admired blonde-haired people, they always seemed so much more beautiful. My parents agreed to let me do it, and father took me to a hair salon on Mulholland Drive in Woodland Hills. 

Choosing that hair salon was a bad decision, for they only bleached the top of my head blonde. When I indignantly questioned why they didn't make all of my hair blonde, they said that I was too young for a full bleaching. I was furious. I thought I looked so silly with blonde hair at the top of my head and black hair at the sides and back. I dreaded going to school the next day with this weird new hair. 

When I arrived at school the next day, I was intensely nervous. Before class started, I stood in a corner franticly trying to figure out how I would go about revealing this to everyone. Trevor was the first one to notice it, and he came up to me and patted my head, saying that it was very "cool." Well, that was exactly what I wanted. My new hair turned out to be quite a spectacle, and for a few days I got a hint of the attention and admiration I so craved.

Unfortunately, dye jobs don't last. But Rodger was hoping life was one big "Boy-meets-Jennifer Aniston" pop culture fantasy, where life was spent chasing the trappings of "cool." To Rodger, that meant Armani shirts, Hugo Boss tennis shoes, and shiny BMW cars. He even had a narcissistic mantra he said to himself to boost his confidence: "I am the image of beauty ad supremacy." 

No wonder girls didn't like him. Rodger thought attracting women came down to having money. He thought about getting rich through writing an "epic" novel or screenplay, then got discouraged. Instead, he spent hundreds of dollars trying to win the lottery. That didn't work. Of course, he was more privileged than poor. He often traveled first class with his family to Asia and Europe. But that wasn't getting him his idea of the holy grail--sex with some hot blonde. He grew angry and frustrated. With his sexless life, he turned up the self-hate:  

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. I glared at them for a bit, and then decided I had been insulted enough. I angrily walked toward them and bumped the Asian guy aside, trying to act cocky and arrogant to both the boy and the girl. My drunken state got the better of me, and I almost fell over to the floor after a few minutes of this. They said something along the lines that I was very drunk and that I needed to get some water, so I angrily left them and went out to the front yard, where the main partying happened. Rage fumed inside me as I realized that I just walked away from that confrontation, so I rushed back into the house and spitefully insulted the Asian before walking outside again. 

The scene actually led to an incident in which Rodger broke his leg, which fortunately delayed his "Day of Retribution," by a year. 

Rodger's screwed-up memoir has much you can point a finger toward. There are race, class and gender issues galore. His sexual repression actually leads to an extremely misogynistic world view, which makes it clear we are dealing with one sick dude. 

Through it all, Rodger says he was under psychiatric treatment and was prescribed  Risperidone, an antipsychotic used to treat schizophrenia and mixed manic states of bipolar disorder. But he said he refused to take his meds and complained that his psychiatrist gave him "the same useless advice that every other psychiatrist, psychologist, and counsellor had given me in the past. I don't know why my parents wasted money on therapy, as it will never help me in my struggle against such a cruel and unjust world." 

How do you treat someone like that? 

You don't. 

Rodger had no problem legally buying two handguns worth nearly $2,000, and even escaped a Santa Barbara Sheriff's Dept. "welfare" check in April. 

"Just didn't meet criteria for further intervention," Sheriff Bill Brown told CBS Face The Nation. "Wish we could turn the clock back." 

So do the victims. 

Roger's manifesto said he wanted to kill his brother and stepmother.

He didn't get to them.

But his anti-Asian self-hate was evident when he wrote of his two Asian roommates. "These were the biggest nerds I had ever seen, and they were both very ugly with annoying voices," Rodger wrote. He called them "repulsive" and "idiots:"

I knew that when the Day of Retribution came, I would have to kill my housemates to get them out of the way. If they were pleasant to live with, I would regret having to kill them, but due to their behavior I now had no regrets about such a prospect. In fact, I'd even enjoy stabbing them both to death while they slept.

The two roommates, Cheng Yuan Hong, 20, and George Chen, 19, from San Jose, were found dead and identified late Sunday.

A third Asian, Weihan Wang of Fremont, was the third person killed inside the apartment, but it was unclear if he was a roommate or just visiting.

Three in his apartment began the killing spree that ended with a gun rampage that claimed three more lives, all of them students at University of California, Santa Barbara. 

After my experience with my cousin's death, all that enabled his shooter--the laws, the gun lobby--enabled and emboldened Rodger. All that needs to change. 

Rodger was confused but harmless until he gunned up. 

That was all it took for Rodger to turn his fantasy into a deadly and senseless tragedy in Isla Vista.

*  *  *

Updates at www.amok.com. Follow Emil on Twitter, and like his Facebook page.

Posted by:Emil Guillermo

The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the views or policies of AALDEF.


1. To be fair, being an Asian male usually is the end for your chances on those types of hot blonde women, unless you're tall, built, masculine and unusually handsome etc. Look around and face the music instead of being in denial about it.
Posted by: J | May 26, 201411:50 PM

2. Wait, so a psycho from a hugely anti-gun family, in an anti gun state stabs and kills a bunch of people with a knife, before killing another with his car.... And you're going to blame the GUN?! Sorry friend, but as a responsible, sane "full flooded" asian american gun owner, I'm not buying it.
Posted by: Roy Lin | May 27, 2014 2:37 AM

3. Great article but I don't agree with your assumption at the end. He wasn't harmless. Did he stab his roommates like he mused he would like to? Even if he shot them instead that sentence proves he wasn't just confused and harmless. Are we going to asse he wouldn't have the ability to stab people even by a person this disturbed. And while this act of insanity may have been carried out with a legal gun 99.9% of the gun crimes in this country are done with illegal guns. Not law abiding citizens who carry a weapon. I'm not scared that my neighbor has a legal pistol, I would be scared to walk through a housing project teaming with gangs and illegal guns. Could my neighbors son be just as disturbed as this man and go on a shooting spree, maybe but far more likely (on an exponential scale) is a scenario where a thug from Newark uses and illegal gun during a home invasion and slots one of my family. Now I have decided not to arm our family but with that type of thing happening a lot around here I don't judge any of my friends or neighbors who decide that is the best way to defend their family and property.
Posted by: Adam | May 27, 2014 9:59 AM

4. I send my deepest condolences to you and your family over the loss of your beloved cousin Stephen. I also want to thank you for this insightful column. T
Posted by: lynne beeson | May 27, 201412:02 PM

5. Emil, thank you so much for bringing attention to an important side of this tragedy that has been almost completely overlooked in the media. It's not only about misogyny, but also about racial self-hatred, and the ways in which race and gender are inseparably combined-- as they were for the victims and the murderer alike. Thanks again for this thoughtful post.
Posted by: Yoon | May 27, 2014 1:06 PM

6. Thx so much....agree 110 percent....these nuts that kill.....would kill anyways...anti-gun people use these examples out of context to try to take away our guns....it's so wrong...I've had firearms all my adult life...I raised two children....never had an accident....go to Jackson Arms to practice...never had any incident ...I'm a single parent,female,lived alone with my kids....I have a right to bear arms in my house. I follow all safety rules..now my kids are married...living out of town,I live alone,over 60 yrs old...I am confident to live alone with my right to bear arms...amen. JM
Posted by: Judi Mar | May 27, 2014 5:44 PM

7. Are you kidding me??? You think guns killed these people??? If this kid was this messed up, he would have thought of a different way if he could not get GUN. There was the same story in Calgary, Alberta, Canada the kid killed 5 people by stabbing them to death at a house party, i don't see people trying to take knifes away from normal people who use knifes in normal ways. Quit trying to put blame on guns!!!!!! Jeez
Posted by: Tyson | May 27, 2014 7:56 PM

8. As a proud first-generation Chinese-American and gun owner, your article is no better than others out there blaming inanimate objects of a particular flavor. While the bulk of the article was well-focused article looking at the other aspects of his manifesto overshadowed by the misogyny angle, until you decided to begin and culminate the article with "guns guns guns". For shame. He killed three people with a sharp piece of steel and ran over people in his luxury sports car. Sounds like the issue of firearms was but one tool in his aresenal of insanity that enabled him to bring his madness into the physical world. He passed all those government-mandated NICS checks so the blame lies with an insufficient system, if blame is to be assigned. Should we lobby to ban luxury cars and knives? Having read the entire manifesto, we are lucky he didn't have his father's Mercedes SUV, which he repeatedly rants about obtaining for his day of retribution, because it would cause much more damage and pose a more formidable barrier to police. Post-tragedy, we are going to end up blaming guns, mental health, and police again. "There ought to he a law" isms will emerge once again to give people satisfactory "something was done" closure. Nothing meaningful will happen, once again.
Posted by: E. Yip | May 28, 201411:30 AM

9. I don't buy it the Asian/mixed-race male argument. In some sectors, Asian men are hot commodities - those who are engineers and computer programmers are part of the tech elite and command commensurate salaries and status. Furthermore, mixed raced people are considered real more attractive than single raced folks. I also don't think guns are *the* problem. Let's look at the real problem - we, in the United States, have a habit of locking up our mentally ill when they finally go off the deep end. Where is the infrastructure and programs for early detection and intervention of mental illness? The young man was obviously ill. Why didn't he get the help he needed? How did he fall through the cracks? And how can we fix the problem?
Posted by: drsychin | May 28, 2014 2:00 PM

10. I have to say that coverage of this in Arizona is very telling of the mindset of our local media. They briefly show the Asian males victims but do not name them. Then the "white" students get their names said and backgrounds of them. I have seen this for other sites in AZ news. Its equally telling that the bay area and more multicultural areas do spend the time naming all the victims.
Posted by: Jeff | May 28, 2014 2:42 PM

11. The tragedy is also that he could have been a very happy and well-adjusted Malaysian Chinese (Bahasa) and perhaps even more desirable to Asian women as a half-breed Chinese. With his wealth and priviledge, many women would have flocked around him there. His Chinese mother could have chosen the best one for him! Something about being mixed race in USA: if the dominant group is not your own, and you don't accept the race of your mother as your own (i.e. less dominant), then your mind is going to be scrambling all over searching for the "right" identity. Yet the right identity IS the mother's. And any white woman anywhere could see immediately that he was not of her race and that dating him was probably not the proper thing to do in the eyes of her parents, even if she could be friendly to him in class, the cafetaria, on a bus or so. Casually, polite and friendly - I am sure he was treated well enough by campus staff, faculty and fellow students EXCEPT when it came to dating. Californians are nothing if not friendly and polite! What if this guy had moved to FINLAND??? Still, mental illness is something that the public needs protection from. Lock them up!
Posted by: Mark McGreevey | May 28, 2014 3:57 PM

12. I agree with your article, Emil. It was very insightful. The funny thing is Elliot Rodger may be half Asian but he doesn't look, sound or act Asian! There isn't even have any hint of being Asian to his name! He's just a disturbed individual with a warped mind! His being half Asian has nothing to do with his inability to attain those "hot blonde" girls. Even full White guys don't necessarily get the "hot blonde" girls! If only Elliot had gotten to know that all mainkind came from Adam and Eve, and that Christ died for His sins (all from the Bible). By going through with his evil destructive plan of killing others and himself, he'll come to know all that way too late, on Christ's judgment day.
Posted by: Art | May 28, 2014 5:25 PM

13. "Rodgers was confused but harmless until he gunned up." You must be joking! whether using guns or knives, he was an absolute psycho in every sense of the word. you can go by everyday usage of the word psycho or go with any experts' definition, he was nuts, simply put. Some degree of control of the sickness is possible but NO cure. By the way, race has NOTHING with it. Any competent psych scholar, practitioner will agree with that. All the 'education' or counseling will not change the course of his action. Do not even try to find reason to explain his action. There is none, at least not yet identifiable by medical science. It's only our wishful thinking or in our desperate efforts in linking with some aspects of the killer's background to his action, we are hoping to come up with a solution. In doing so, we are only fooling ourselves and doing a disservice to all the victims. Barring some miraculous discovery, psychotic killer is just that--a killer--no more , no less.
Posted by: anthony | May 29, 2014 8:24 AM

14. The messed up thing is that his parents gave him so much money for living. They gave him money for the car. He spent something like a thousand dollars on lottery tickets. He could have instead used this money to P4P and sleep with women that way. If he wanted, he could have gone to Asia and gotten with dozens of women for for not so much money.
Posted by: Joe S | May 31, 201412:03 AM

15. To those defending easy access to guns, as long as things stay the same, you'll see more Lanzas, Chos, and Rodgers. Bottom line.
Posted by: Joe S | May 31, 201412:08 AM

16. Many "hapas" (kids of white and asian parents - usually white male, asian female) develop an inferiority complex and confused identity. Confused because whilst they are part asian, they see the unequal dynamic between their parents - usually mum and dad are equal, but the sort of non asian men who go for asian women tend to have other flaws that prevent them from being able to keep a relationship with their own races' women. As a result, they exploit the "asian women are easy" stereotype. However, this does not bode well for any male offspring, because if the guy wasn't able to be with a woman without resorting to the above tactics, what hope for his son? Furthermore, the child (boy or girl) develops the same inferiority complex as their mother, who usually seeks a white man regardless of their social worth, but because they seem being white as status in itself.
Posted by: Jeff | Jun 3, 201411:26 PM

17. I disagree fundamentally with the idea that mixed races have identity problems. Maybe 40 years ago when it was considered socially off limits, but today it's commonplace in Hawaii to be mixed Asian with something else and a hot commodity elsewhere. This psycho had a multitude of problems including low self esteem, probable mental illness, what appears to be abuse of alcohol and Xanax, a coddled and spoiled upbringing in which he had everything handed to him on demand except an education in how to cope with adversity, lived in the most superficial world of Hollywood glam, and a complete lack of spirituality and morality to ground him. He was a whiner who seemed to have no interest in self improvement . Mommy took too much care of him so he expected the world to give him everything with no effort and expected all the women to coddle him. He was like a two year old. He never learned how to man up. I do think that was a flaw in his upbringing. My father would have told him to suck it up as he never had to live through the Great Depression or WWII, never got corporal punishment in school, never had to go hungry... In fact I hope he's getting his ass kicked wherever he is now.
Posted by: Rachel | Jun 6, 2014 7:16 PM

18. The person who left the first comment ("J") is a f****** idiot. I just wanted to say that.
Posted by: Asian-American Man | Jun 12, 2014 4:32 PM

19. Yes, when I first heard the story and then saw his mother was asian I was like 'aha...and she's married to a WHITE guy...and I think her husband or man before that was ALSO white? It's so sad how asians are taught to hate their own race, but in the case of the women they buy into it WAY more than the asian men do, cuz you see, the asian women (and society as a whole) is fed this idea (at least in the US) that asian men are dorks. It is EXTREMELY rare to see an asian male depicted in TV or film with a love interest. Most times the asian male is ALONE....no mention of a love interest. No so with the asian actresses in the US. They are almost ALWAYS paired with a non asian male. Coincidence? Not enough asian male actors out there? I think not. And don't tell me the asian actresses don't notice they are always paired with a non asian male? clearly they dont care though..,..none of them want to stand up for their asian brothers because after all ...most of these women HATE being asian and hate asian men. They have been taught to worship whitey, and now are even chasing after the forbidden, exotic, and (giggle giggle) big black man. When you see so many asian women with non black men ti's very clear that in most instances it's the women doing the chasing or otherwise make it very clear to these men that they are er....receptive to them. It's really quite messed up, and oh so transparent. But no one wants to talk about it much less acknowledge it, especially these asian women (you know...the very same women who 'complain' about all the men with yellow fever 'chasing them', and then who are these women dating/married to? WHITE MEN. Talk about hypocrites. but you gotta admit it's a clever ploy of these women...go on and on about YELLOW fever and then no one will think to question HER and HER possibly racist motives for always ending up with non asian men. But hey, I guess we are the 'racists' for even bringing this up right? ;-)
Posted by: lisa evers | Jun 27, 201412:36 AM

20. Advice from a Asian Hi, Guillermo glad to read your article. As a chinese who grows up partially in China and partially in Europe I just want to say asian americans have problems, big problems. One of the most important is: they don't learn their own history. all people in US just learn the "white history": english history, german history, french history, well, just the european history. NO body needs to learn what happened to the ppl in China and Japan or other asian countries. you think that ain't a problem? No, to my experience, knowing chinese history made me proud, it's simple, we had a very rich history, after leaning it you realize you were leading most of the time white ppl just got ahead in recent 300 years. We defeated mongols for thousand years while mongols raped Europe for thousands years. That's where my pride comes from. Without this pride, you can only hate yourself being a asian, because you are not white.
Posted by: Tim | Jul 27, 2014 4:32 AM

21. I agree that asian guys are totally put down by culture and society most of all by asian women. I am an asian guy too and I get really frustrated. I feel like no matter what I do women dont like me and I never get past just being friends it makes me sick. Asian women or white women always turn me down even when I spend a lot of time on them. One asian girl I was friends with I helped her on her homework and even made sure to take the same classes as her then at the end of the year I asked her out and she turned me down flat I tried calling her and now she doesnt even talk to me and switched out of the one class we had together this year. The only women that are even interested in me at all are way below my level, it is so depressing. I wish my parents had stayed in China... I look at pictures there and the situation is so mich better even old guys that are ugly and bald can go out with beautiful women in china because they respect intelligence there and dont just worship white and black guys or asian guys that spend their life lifting weights.
Posted by: asiandude1911 | Nov 6, 201412:55 PM

22. The incident was influenced hardly by race and gun violence is not the biggest issue here. This was the creation of Elliot's HYPER SEXIST views of society; believing women were only there as objects for his pleasure and because they didn't fulfill his need he felt he had the RIGHT to do what he did. Where I believe race played the biggest part here is in the police, 6 months prior to the incident Elliot was visited by police TWICE for BEHAVIORAL issues and one of which was because someone saw he had posted a video saying he was going to hurt people because he DESERVED women and was receiving any attention. When the cops showed up to his home they did not even search his place although, he had threatened lives and was detailed on how would do it because he seemed harmless. I'm sure it would have gone differently if he was black or Hispanic, and the police would have found Elliot's stash of weapons in his room that were unhidden.
Posted by: benny | Nov 23, 2014 6:37 PM

23. All the Eurasian mixed kids should stay in Asia to embrace the Asian heritage. Some may still have obsessions on blond white but that chance would be little as they won't get drawn in the typical Hollywood ideal standard of women. Eurasian kids are more accepted by most Asian youth than by white American youth. The mainstream culture (white culture) totally screwed up Elliot's mind. And he was too dumb to realize there are a lot more attractive girls in all races.
Posted by: kitkat | Nov 29, 201410:49 AM

24. What I do not understand is why Elliot didn't utilize the net to meet woman. He seemed like a very intelligent man. And what is so odd is that i have 3 half-white and asian friends and they all act exactly the same way as Elliot, although they are not quite as shy, narcissistic or anti-social. What is also odd is all 3 of them LOVE blondes. And another ironic thing is that all 3 had trouble getting white girls. It is a real shame he became so brain-washed by American media and standards. It literally destroyed him. We all know our culture is not too accepting of anything that is not perfect. It is a truly flawed society. It is a shallow and media-driven society. Sad stuff.
Posted by: Mike | Mar 9, 2015 8:59 PM

25. Most of the above letters are truly frightening. The letters from the Asians are particularly troubling. I have not noted this level of self hatred before. I have lived in Japan, 3 years and China, 2 years.(military assignments) As a Black American, I was always an "outsider," but I was always treated warmly by the common peoples of both countries. As were my Latin and White co-service members. I had not known that mixed race Asians felt so out of place. I have many, many military friends of all races and genders who have married Asian Women. Maybe, its that being in the military, so much of our lives are separate from the main-stream society at large. All of our kids get along very well. I see Asians dating people of different races, just as i do others dating outside of their respective races. But, as stated above, the military is a protected cocoon, so to speak.
Posted by: Jeff | Jul 23, 2015 3:43 PM

26. Mr. military guy thinks the military is some kind of racial utopia where all people are treated with respect? Why are there millions of "Amerasians" in Vietnam and the Phillipines, amongst other Asian locales? And what is the military slang for Filipinas "LBFM's" stand for? You have no business commenting on a topic you don't have the slightest clue in.
Posted by: Kenny Yuen | Jul 29, 2015 8:47 PM

27. All I want to say, problem was with elliot rodger and not with girls or other human or asian.we all have problems almost 80 to 90 percent when it comes to hold conversation with others, we must address our problem and learn to become better self
Posted by: Abhishek | Apr 26, 2017 7:49 PM

28. Being an Asian male means you're a handicapped, disabled aesthetically, repulsive anywhere except only in among your kind. And we Asians are way too many all over the world and so constitute a nightmare for the elite beautiful superior Aryan race. This is the typical thinking pattern.
Posted by: lordhelpus | Aug 26, 2017 7:48 AM

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