Asian Vigilantes Strike back
First off, I have no problem with people employing any means at their disposal in self defense. Vigilantism however, is a bit different. There is a fine line between self defence and preemptive action, and vigilantes can quickly cross that fine line taking justice into their own hands, this slips into a grey area where the crowd mentality descends into prejudice and suspicion, that isn’t justice or self defence, it’s mob rule. It may be that the media has chosen the word ‘vigilante’ when the group itself has not actually used this word – they should be correcting the media at every opportunity.
If your’e squemish, don’t check out this link, but this shows rather graphically what happens when people get really pissed about crime and take matters into their own hands… http://pakistaniat.com/2008/05/16/vigilante-justice-burnt-alive-karachi/comment-page-7/
It may well be that the Asians (mainly Chinese) who have got together to protect themselves are really just trying to help their fellow citizens avoid becoming victims, and clearly there’s nothing at all wrong with this. The website (curiously in English) http://www.aag.org.nz/faq.php seems reasonable enough, a pity the interviewees on radio and TV have sometimes verged on the slightly hysterical. I question why they feel that Asians (a pretty broad ethic generalisation) have specifically different requirements from any other ethnic group when it comes to dealing with the effects of crime. I can’t think of any, but I can sure think of some habits that ethnic Chinese immigrants have brought with them that would make them a target of crime – like the weakness for carrying large amounts of cash around with them.
The ‘rest of us’ (the group has introduced the distinction, so for this post I’ll stick with it) don’t walk around carrying (often) tens of thousands of dollars in cash, I personally very rarely carry cash at all. There is really no need to, you can comfortably get by using electronic transactions whether they be card or web based without needing to use cash at all. If any other ethnic group displayed a predilection for carrying and hoarding cash then without doubt it would be the target of crime. The reasons why people persist in using cash when it is not really required could be debated, lets just say, electronic transactions are traceable by agencies like the IRD, and that may be one reason.
This sort of crime is nothing new, it isn’t recent or unique to New Zealand. In parts of Asia you need to be pretty careful about what you do and when, with the exception being Singapore – but even they have crime. In every situation it requires you to do as the locals do and exercise common sense.
That’s not to say we should just accept crime, clearly we shouldn’t, but equally no one should put themselves in position where they attract the attention of criminals.
The events of the last few weeks have been appalling and its good that the ‘Asian’ community has become active in the law and order debate. What I saw when Yin Ping Yang and Joanne Wang were murdered, was not a crime against Asians or Chinese, but a crime against a fellow New Zealander.
It would be better for NZders of Asian ethnicity to join the groups established by their fellow New Zealanders rather than form their own thus perpetuating what seems to be a social isolation from other New Zealanders. This way they could have added their voices to the debate about law and order issues, and learned from the experiences of the rest of us. One of the best ways of dealing with this problem is for all New Zealanders to work together as a common group, not a disparate ethnic groups. We are all victims of crime.
“By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest”