Hate crimes: Atlanta spa murders

Stop AAPI Hate

Atlanta spaMy feelings about the Atlanta spa murders bounce between being really sad and extremely angry. Of course, I’m devastated by the loss of life. But the false notion that this is an incident unrelated to a broader societal pathology is infuriating.

As the Boston Globe indicated, This time needs to be different for Asian Americans. “Violence and racist acts against Asian Americans are not new — see the Chinese Exclusion Act, Japanese internment camps…” Anti-Asian policies and attitudes in the U.S. date back several decades.

“This is a fraught moment for Asian Americans everywhere. The community is on edge, bringing us back to the 1980s when anti-Asian sentiment ran high as Japanese carmakers crippled the US auto industry. In 1982, Vincent Chin, a 27-year-old Chinese-American, became collateral damage when he was beaten to death with a baseball bat in Michigan by a Chrysler autoworker and his out-of-work stepson. The two white men received zero prison time.

“Chin’s killing ushered in a new era of Asian American activism. The Atlanta murders must serve as another tipping point in this country to recognize that the racism against Asian Americans is deeper than most people realize and that we need to stamp it out.”

Recent bigotry

Of course, Americans are largely ahistorical people. So let’s look at more recent trends. Heather Cox Richardson, a political historian, has written a lengthy post on Facebook. I recommend the whole post.

After touting the great US relationship with China as recently as mid-February 2020, 45 “began to turn on China… He insisted that China had not told him about the deadly nature of the virus, and began to call it the ‘Chinese virus’” or the ‘Chy-na virus,'” his preferred Sinophobic slur.

“By April 17, a Republican strategy document urged candidates to deflect attention from the nation’s disastrous coronavirus news by attacking China… Democrats would not stand up to China, the document told Republican candidates to say, but ‘I will stand up to China, bring our manufacturing jobs back home, and push for sanctions on China for its role in spreading this pandemic.'”

While the previous regime said otherwise, the intelligence community concluded that China did not try to influence the election.

Still, with the politicization of the pandemic, hate crimes against Asian-Americans began to rise. There were about 3800 of them between March 19, 2020, and February 28, 2021, according to Stop AAPI Hate.

Chinese are the largest ethnic group (42.2%) that report experiencing hate, followed by Koreans (14.8%), Vietnamese (8.5%), and Filipinos (7.9%). Women report hate incidents 2.3 times more than men.

Hate crimes

Moreover, per the Boston Globe: “Six of the eight victims were Asian women. As much as some may have wanted to believe it wasn’t another racially motivated hate crime, it’s impossible to disentangle racism from misogyny in the white shooter’s denial of a racial motive — threaded, as it was, with a racist trope. It wasn’t Asian Americans he wanted to eliminate, you see. It was Asian-American temptresses.”

(And WTH? Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) glorifies lynching in a rant during a hearing on anti-Asian attacks. Let’s trade in one bigoted imagery for another?)

So, yes, these were hate crimes, as Trevor Noah said of the murderer. (I’m leaving off the word “alleged” since he has reportedly confessed; mentally insert it, if you need to.). We shan’t be gaslighted. The killer didn’t have a really bad day.

Delaina Ashley Yaun, 33, died. Xiaojie “Emily” Tan, 49, died. Paul Andre Michels, 54, died.  Daoyou Feng, 44, died. Soon C. Park, Hyun Jung Grant, Suncha Kim, and Yong A. Yue, all died. Elcias Hernandez-Ortiz, 30 is still fighting for his life. They and their families and friends had a really bad day.

It’s time to stop the hate. I’m unclear about the efficacy of online hashtags, but I’ll do it anyway. #STOPASIANHATE


Georgia on my mind

key lime pie

midnight in the garden of good and evilI’ve been to Georgia twice. The first time was to Atlanta in 1995. The city was/is a sprawling entity. On one particular 10-line highway, we repeatedly saw cars exiting to the right, crossing three or four lanes quickly, usually directly in front of us.

What made it worse was that it was the year before the Summer Olympics, so there was plenty of construction everywhere.

I was there with my girlfriend, now my wife, visiting friends of hers. We also got to see part of the Martin Luther King Museum. Our visit to CNN involved sitting in on some program we have on a VHS tape, and nothing to play it on!

My second Georgia was to the coastal city of Savannah, in 1998, for a work conference. It’s the oldest city in the state and had some interesting historic structures. It was particularly proud of its connection to the book and then-recent film Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

But the best part is that my father drove down from Charlotte, NC to hang out with me. We both arrived on Saturday night, and the conference didn’t formally start until Monday morning, so we walked around the city with some of my friends, eating key lime pie or recalling tales of my growing up.

He LOVED the city by the Atlantic Ocean and said he’d like to move there someday. Unfortunately, he died less than two years later.

Songs about Georgia:

Oh, Atlanta – Alison Krauss
Midnight Train to Georgia – Gladys Knight and the Pips
Georgia on My Mind – Ray Charles
The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia – Vicki Lawrence
Jug Band Music – the Lovin’ Spoonful

GA Georgia. Historic abbreviation: Geo. Capital and largest city: Atlanta.

GU Guam, an unincorporated organized territory of the US, Capital: Hagatna (Agana); largest city: Dededo. How the United States Ended Up With Guam

For ABC Wednesday

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