george orwell, in his classic novel “animal farm,” has the famous line “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
this statement has always troubling and true with respect to humanity. while we are all god’s creation, certain individuals, for certain reasons, are given more importance than others. as we see in media and social media, some people’s successes or tragedies receive far more coverage and attention than others. likewise, organizations and social causes devote much attention to the plight of certain individuals and groups. likewise, some individuals or groups, who are worthy of attention, are ignored..
ee lee’s matter is quite problematic. her tragic murder case has all of the elements that excite media and social organizations. despite that, there is little interest.
one reason is the location. had this crime happened on the west or east coast, there would have been more media interest.
another reason may have been her mental incapacity. while she was 37 years of age, her life story and accomplishments were limited.
still another reason, and the topic of this blog is that it may be because of her ethnicity. while she was asian and “asian hate” crimes have recently been given a lot of publicity, she, however, was not part of the well-known and established asian ethnic groups in the united states. she was an “ethnic” hmong.
hmong people arrived in america in the 1970s. their immigration was spurred in part due to their participation and allegience to factions fighting with the united states in the viet nam war. wikipedia. per wikipedia, ” [t]he last data collected by the american government puts the percentage of hmong Americans living below the poverty line at 37.8%, an increase from recent years. this figure is over twice that of all americans living below the poverty line, which is 16%. In a 2013, NPR discussion with a member of the economic policy institute and co-author of the book the myth of the model minority rosalind chou who is also a professor of sociology. one of them stated that “when you break it down by specific ethnic groups, the hmong, the bangladeshi, they have poverty rates that rival the african-american poverty rate.””
so the following question is posed: if ms. ee lee was of a different asian ethnic group, would there be more interest in the greater asian-american community in championing her cause? the cause being that justice is done on her behalf and that her memory and loss be of some meaning.
the asian-american community is not homogeneous. in many cities there are chinatowns, little tokyo, thai town, little saigon, and koreatowns. each asian ethnic group has their customs, culture and community pride.
after the arrests of the suspects in the ee lee murder case, it was somewhat surprising that asian anti-hate groups and the media haven’t circled back to demand answers as to whether this was an “asian hate” crime. this ee lee murder may have been the “worst asian hate crime” that has happened in the united states yet it appears that no one wants to re-examine it.
if the asian american community wishes to address this case, the following should be demanded:
asian american community leaders could ask the biden administration to have the fbi investigate as to whether there were any federal crimes involved in the murder? the fact that there was a video recording and transmission of that recording via cell phone may give the federal government jurisdiction to prosecute.
asian american community leaders could ask facebook to investigate and see if they can produce the recording of the crime. the complaint indicated that it was transmitted by the one who took it and it is now in the hands of others via facebook messenger. thus, privacy concerns are no longer an issue.
asian american community leaders could question why one of the accusers was given such a low bail amount for such a horrendous crime?
asian american community leaders could inquire with the district attorney’s offices prosecuting the charges as to whether they have made any efforts concerning retrieving the recording.
asian american community leaders could inquire as to whether the accounts of the recording are suggestive of an asian hate crime? this could be followed up with the question to the district attorney as to whether or not it is possible for “hate crime” charges could be applied.
if the asian american community wants to be taken seriously, it is incumbent upon them to protected their most vulnerable individuals. a mentally incapacity woman from a marginalized asian ethnic group would be a good start. to their credit, the asian american community has made their voice heard concerning the violence that has been inflicted upon their elder population.
again, did her ethnicity come into play? since there is no hmong nation, and the fact that they are recent immigrants to the united states with limited wealth and power, should that matter? did that matter?
you don’t have to be asian to have concern that justice is served in the ee lee murder case. we are a society that must protect the most vulnerable of our populations. ms. ee lee and her family deserve our support through this process. they deserve justice.
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