Saturday, November 27, 2004

St. Paul

While this is generally an interesting article on the relationship between Hmong and whites in St. Paul, I do have a particular problem with the piece. I'm obviously in no position to know whether or not Mr. Vang's claims about being called racist names and being shot at are true, and even if true they would in no way justify what he did, but the article really gives short shrift to the possibility that Mr. Vang didn't start the altercation, without any firm evidence for discounting the idea offhand:

Some said they wondered whether there was more to the case - and thought they might have gained some understanding when they learned Mr. Vang had told the police that the local hunters used ethnic slurs against him and fired at him before he started shooting. A police statement by a hunter wounded in the incident makes no mention of ethnic slurs.

Well, if the white hunter didn't mention any racist slurs, I guess it's case closed.

But people in Wisconsin said that complaints by some Asian hunters of insults or harassment from white hunters were exaggerated. "I haven't heard any anger against the Hmong," said Patty Behrndt, manager of a bookstore in Rice Lake, the main town in this part of the North Woods.

I can't even begin to see the relation between the first sentence and the supposedly supportive quote. Accusations of racism can't be swept aside so easily, and it is lazy journalism to use a random man-on-the-street quote in an attempt to do so. The writer is understandably walking on eggshells in an attempt to respect the dead when there is not yet any evidence to dishonor their names, but the end result is pretty atrocious.

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