Friday, September 16, 2005

"...three of them deserved to die."

Have you heard about this?

A Hmong man, deer hunting on private land was confronted by an owner of the property. He was told to leave, then the owner radioed the other members of his hunting party, one of whom was another co-owner and told them he'd kicked a "tree rat" out of one of their stands. The others hopped on their ATVs and intercepted Chai Vang. They reportedly, and admittedly, according to one of the survivors, surrounded him and proceeded to threaten and taunt him with racial epithets and foul language. He shot at them all. He killed six of them.

He was found guilty today of first degree murder. I do not know why this case came to trial. His defense was that he'd felt threatened, and had shot in self defense. I've no comment on what his defense attorney was thinking with that one, the man had already admitted what he'd done & was to be punished either way. However, in light of my visceral reaction to the Katrina imagery & fiasco, I am inclined to share a truth about this incident and my reaction to it.

First, some personal background: my f-i-l, who lives in a region of MN that is/was semi-rural and is home to a hunt/fish contigent that maintains a 6 degrees of separation to everybody else in the region that includes a wide swath of western WI, reported that one of the men shot, the co-owner of the property on which this occured, was a type who would confront, berate, cuss out & threaten an armed man that he did not know. The implication was that the guy was a loud, foul-mouthed hothead who was bound to have it bite him in the ass someday.

My thought is that while mowing down a small crowd of mostly unarmed people is not an appropriate reaction to being called a gook, or whatever & told to get the f*** out or something, as a minority, I understand. I under-effing-stand.

There is only so much one can take, and when you add being outnumbered and surrounded, humiliated & threatened, well, let's just say that somebody had better pray.

I can not imagine that a typical white person, when called a kraut, mic, limey, dago or whatever, feels the same pit-of-the-stomach reaction that a minority feels when being called nigger, chink, kike, beaner or gook. It sucks. It f***ing sucks.

I am beginning to understand, and accept, that the Katrina mess was as much or more a socioeconomic class issue as it was a race issue. Nonetheless, there are huge gulfs between us. Huge. Gulfs of understanding. Gulfs of experience. Gulfs of history.

Those hunters did not deserve to die. But no man deserves what Chai Vang went through, either.

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