August 14, 2006

Fighting Against Hate Crimes

Saw news of a hate crime on this morning. According to the news story posted, TWO white guys beat up on FOUR Asian guys. When I first saw the blog post, the first idea that crossed my mind was this: how the hell do you lose a fight when you outnumber your attackers two to one? Even if those were two REALLY REALLY big white guys and four REALLY REALLY small Chinese guys, how do you lose when you have twice the number of fighters?

I found another news story--a more detailed story-- about the same incident on the web. It explains the story a bit better. You can see footage of the victims here. Incidentally, there was a witness--and it's a white guy. So the two thugs will most likely do some time. (As a side note which isn't really related to this post, I found it funny that one of the racists who didn't like "gooks" was from Flushing--one of the "other" NYC Chinatowns. Poor guy. It's kind of like being David Duke and living in Harlem...)

The story is this: apparently, the two white guys rammed into the back of the car of the four Chinese guys. They were shouting racial slurs while doing this, and so the four Chinese guys tried to get away. When they thought they had eluded their pursuers, they pulled over to the side. One of the Chinese guys got out of the car, and the two white guys surprised him by punching him. One of the other Chinese guys got out of the car to help his friend, and they beat him too. So it wasn't really two against four; it was more like two against one in Round One, then it was two against one again in Round Two. The two other Asian men in the car declined to participate (According to the New York Times, the two men were calling on their cellphones. Exactly why it takes two men to place a call is beyond comprehension. I'm actually not sure what is more sickening--the racist attack or the cowardice displayed by these two men watching their good friends getting beaten by two unarmed guys.). Round Three was with the police--the belligerent ones lost that round.

What most likely happened was that the Chinese guys were surprised by the force and speed of the attack, and so they were unable to mobilize effectively. After getting hit with the first surprise punch (or punches), the first Asian guy was effectively taken out of the fight. The second Asian guy may have just been a poor fighter (The Club is a terrible weapon to use, especially for a small guy. While it can inflict damage when you hit someone with it, the design is so unwieldy and slow that it's hard to actually land a blow. He probably would have been better off just using his fists.). The other two Asian guys just stayed in the car with their cell phones and therefore never posed a threat.

Fighting is a scary thing, and one never behaves exactly as one would like to behave in a fight. It's like the karate teachers always say--"It's different on the street." Some fighters freeze up when they fight under pressure, and many are unable to perform as they do in a controlled environment. I've been there, and I can attest to the fact that it is scary when one assails you with racial slurs and then uses his fists on you. I don't think that the Asian guys did anything wrong. Yet at the same time, I think they could have handled themselves better. They could have mounted a much better defense, especially given their situation.

There is a Korean American man on the fighting44s website who argues effectively that racial slurs in and of themselves are a form of racial violence. In other words, throwing a racial slur is akin to throwing a punch; it's an act of violence. Racial slurs are so normally accompanied by physical violence that their usage connotes bodily harm and threats, and therefore it is a form of physical violence.

I would agree 100%. I think the violence happened way before the two guys hit their car. I think it occurred way before they punched the first Asian guy, way before they smashed the skull of the second with the Club. I think the violence occurred the minute the word "chink" or "gook" was uttered. Especially in this day and age, no one ever says "chink," "gook," "nigger," "fag," or any other derogatory term without the intent of causing physical harm. The slur itself is an attack. Once the four guys were assaulted (and they were assaulted) by the slur, they should have called the police right away. And if they wanted to leave the car, they should have left the car together.

Now assuming the Asian guys all left the car together, the moment the racist guys came out of their car, one of the four Asian guys should have thrown the first punch. After all, two guys shout racial slurs, ram your car, and then charge at you? Even if you were to throw and land the first punch, it would still be self-defense, not an act of aggression.

Violence is wrong. Racism is wrong. I'm a Buddhist and believe strongly in nonviolence. But you have to play it smart; there's no heroism in being a passive, voiceless victim. When an angry racist man addresses you by shouting a racial slur, he has committed an act of violence against you, and you need to run from him or fight him. The slur has signalled his intent to kill or maim you, and if you value your life, it behooves you to protect yourself. Don't wait for him to hit you. Hit him first. Break his nose. Stick your thumbs in his eyes. The situation demands it. You aren't spreading any good karma by letting him fracture your skull. Your passive acceptance of his behavior teaches him that violence and racism are good and that you approve of the way he treats people who look like you. Beat him to the punch, hit him first and hit hard, and you are demonstrating to him a greater morality. You are teaching him--and people like him--that racism is wrong. You're also saving money by avoiding the hospital (or saving your parents' money by avoiding the morgue.).


taikitty said...

Hey B. I haven't read the article yet, but I certainly wouldn't stay in the car on my cell phone if you were getting verbally or physically attacked! It's all violence to me. My mom, the good Buddhist, always wanted to me curl up in a little ball, and hope that the girls trying to beat me up would go away. F-that.

B said...


Wasn't kung-fu invented in a Buddhist Shaolin temple or something? I think it was a philsophy of "You desecrate-a my shrine, I breaka yo face" kind of dharma. I think nonviolence-under-any-and-all- circumstances is a misconstruction of what Buddhism really stands for. At any rate, it's not MY version of Buddhism!