Boxing Day

Boxing Day is the day that I might just find myself back on my computer and in a position to do some blogging. There might even be a post later tonight depending on how much energy I get in the coming hours. But trying to explain on MSN to American girls what day I come home is awfully difficult at times. After all, Boxing Day is a British holiday carried over to most of the Commonwealth. Naturally, the Wikipedia article on Boxing Day is the best quick source of information.

Two of the American girls seemed to think that it had something to do with recycling (or "throwing away" in the pre-politically correct days) the boxes that had accumulated on Christmas. A third thought it a Chinese holiday, somehow related to the Boxer Rebellion of 1900. It turns out that this "throwing away boxes" is a common American misconception. The reality is more of a "three centuries of tradition" approach. The first century of Boxing Day, the 1800s, was of a time in Britain where only equals received gifts on Christ's Mass. Juniors and servants got gifts on the day after Christmas. Also there was something about opening church boxes for the poor. Regardless, the second century of Boxing Day, the 1900s, had its own tradition. Boxing Day was the day in which you gave presents to all the people who you didn't see on Christmas, since you were home with family. So the mailman, the milkman, the people you worked with, the waitress at your cafe, they all got their presents on that day. We now come to the third century of Boxing Day, which in Canada at least is a day where the tradition is to flock en masse to the stores at 7am and fight off crowds and fellow shoppers for extreme discounts.

Edmonton is the Mall Capital of Canada, so we go particularly ga-ga over our Boxing Day shopping. As well, Leons, The Brick, Future Shop, et. al are known for big sales as well. Future Shop and Best Buy (and perhaps Wal-Mart) are the locales I am choosing for my rush to get an original X-box for cheap.

Boxing Day at Edmonton malls is also a slightly sad note, as 1998 saw a brutal murder at West Edmonton Mall on Boxing Day. Dominic Mah, an asian gang member, was axed to death next to the Ice Palace in front of hundreds, if not thousands, of shoppers. Tragically nothing was done by said observers, although I believe there were multiple assailants. (Oddly, I can find no news links to the story outside of this old Alberta Report article). The murderer himself, Hai Van Tran, was killed the following August in another high-profile gang hit that saw an innocent tourist in a taxicab injured in the shootout between two cars. Again, good luck finding old news reports. Searching for Tran's name in this page or this Google cache.

Switching to angry right-winger mode, do you want to know who we can blame for this unacceptable rash of asian gang violence in our city? It's not letting up... with 7 more days to go, Edmonton is trying to hold steady at 37 murders this year, obliterating the previous record (1990,2004). Though the percentage of known gang members is down (there have been a large number of people "known to police" to be shot or stabbed or beat down this year both alive and dead) amoungst the murdered, the age of the victims is much lower than the demographics would let on. Anyways, the identify of the perpetrator may surprise you: its this man. Actually, to be fair there were a few culpable victims, but the rise of Vietnamese gangs in Western Canada stems from the Vietnamese boat people crisis that was a result of the North Vietnamese invasion of their southern kin and the people who fled persecution in the murderous unified Vietnamese regime. The northern invasion was a result of the American withdrawl from Vietnam which was due to the political pressure brought against Nixon by the public's desire to end the war, even if South Vietnamese citizens had to be slaughtered in the process. This desire of the American public came about due to the intense (though not as high as bandied about) anti-war sentiment. That anti-war sentiment was fuelled largely by the biased reporting of the Tet Offensive by Walter Cronkite. Follow the chain far enough back, and the blood of these Edmonton victims, both innocent and guilty, must stain Cronkite's hands. Of course, he's also responsible for the hundreds of thousands displaced and/or killed in Vietnam, so there's not much surface area left.

Not that there can't be some blame against Ottawa's "get soft on crime" approach, fears of racism accusations for the media to properly devote energy to why certain ethnic immigrant communities are so violent (lots of Polish, for example, have come to Alberta over the decades, yet there are no Polish gangs of Polish speaking immigrants and sons of immigrants), the ethnic groups themselves for not taking responsibility for their communities, and of course the actual murderers themselves. There's lots of blame to go around, just doesn't seem to be too many right-wing ideals that end up being responsible, are there? (This is when some anti-capitalists are going to spout off claims that its the corporate system leaving these poor destitute people. That is, of course, why over half of Edmonton's gamblers are asian)