Wednesday, November 24, 2004

"Cultural Differences" Don't Explain Killings

The tragedy that unfolded last weekend in the woods of western Wisconsin when a hunter gunned down a group of other hunters, killing six and wounding two, has prompted the obligatory search for an easy answer as to the 'why' in this situation. Of course, we all know that determining why terrible things like this happen is never easy, but there are those who need life to make sense again as quickly as possible. I have already heard it suggested more than once that 'cultural differences' may have been the catalyst in the chain of events that ended in the killing of these hunters. The accused is a Hmong immigrant and the dead and wounded are all white. Now it is important to note that I do not detect the 'cultural differences' explaination coming from the Hmong community here in the Twin Cities, who have responded in a very visible way to offer condolences to the families of the slain and condemnation of the crime. They have taken this act personally as a group, which they need not do; this could just as easily been a crazed fifth-generation Irish person, and the Irish community would not need to take on the mantle of blame. No, I detect the cultural differences explaination coming from the usual sources - that is, those people who seem to make a living out of dividing American society into cultural and racial enclaves pitted against one another. Now think about it: If they really want to advance the idea that differences between cultures is to blame, they must start with the belief that in Laos, when one hunter is asked to leave a piece of land being hunted by another or other hunters, the first hunter is obliged to fire upon the others. I have heard of some Hmong who have recently come to this country who have had a little trouble assimilating, and as a group have been somewhat ignorant of our hunting laws regarding seasons and bag limits. Those things I can understand as being attributable to cultural differences. But let's not ascribe a penchant for mass murder at the slightest provocation to those differences. To do so would be to suggest that all Hmong, who are a very successful immigrant group, are ticking time bombs, and would only invite more venomous bigotry than has already been directed at them in the aftermath of the tragedy. There is a 'why' to this crime, and it will be revealed in due course. Don't look for the easy answer.

No comments: