The communities of Rice Lake and Haugen, Wisconsin, are still coming to grips with the shocking mass murder of six hunters by a Hmong immigrant. People want to understand what happened and why.
There's no doubt in the minds of the press and the Hmong — the problem is racism and clashing cultures. They want to talk about discrimination on the part of American hunters, but there is no mention of the incomplete assimilation of the Hmong, in which concepts considered too bothersome are willfully ignored, e.g. respecting private property and obeying conservationist limits on hunting and fishing.
Outdoors columnist Dave Bowman said it straight:
"There is no delicate way to put this: The Hmongs have a notorious reputation among white sportsmen in the upper Midwest."
In April, I was fishing on the Mississippi River between Minnesota and Wisconsin. Huge signs designated the no-fishing area by the dam.
A couple dozen people, spread over several generations, came out. The babies and women sat on blankets. Men set to catching white bass by the dozen from the no-fishing area by the dam flank. Downstream in the no-fishing area, children waded with nets, then dumped the catch in holes dug on the beach.
I asked who they were. Hmongs, came the answer. Another fisherman, in a Charlie Chan voice, asked, "Ah, Straight Eye, you don't know?"
"Straight Eye"?! If I were to address an Asian as "Slant" I would be accused of racism, but when Hmong treat Americans disrespectfully, it's overlooked, like they don't know any better. They certainly complain when they think they've been racially wronged.
And when Hmong arrogantly break U.S. laws designed to protect species and the environment, that is categorized as a "culture clash." No wonder there is resentment.
If there is to be any improvement in American-Hmong relations, then the race-victimhood tapdance must stop. Hmong must be made to realize that assimilation is more than knowing how to receive the maximum food stamps.
The responsibilities of living in America must be accepted, as well as the benefits. Law enforcement agencies must do their part by cracking down hard on poachers, night hunters, limit busters, baby-critter eaters and other cheats. Having differing standards of justice depending on the cultural group is poison for a society.
Along those lines, "culturally sensitive" sentencing must end. Our own weakness about insisting that immigrants obey our laws is a big part of the problem.
The following is an example of what enrages Americans.
In Fresno in 1995, Thai Chia Moua, a Hmong shaman originally from Laos, ordered a German shepherd puppy beaten to death on his front porch while he chanted over its body. Moua later explained that he wanted the puppy's soul to hunt down an evil spirit that was tormenting his wife. He pleaded guilty to animal cruelty. He was sentenced to probation and community service. (USA Today, 5/24/2004)
The crime was made doubly worse because there was no punishment from our criminal justice system. This sort of politically correct permissiveness insults law-abiding Americans, in this case those to whom animal cruelty is deeply repugnant. As economist Adam Smith said, "Mercy to the guilty is cruelty to the innocent."