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

StopAsianHate

Rushing to say good things about Limbaugh

cruel bigotries

LimbaughWhen I heard that Rush Limbaugh had died, my first instinct was to post what Arthur posted. In fact, the graphic I purloined from Arthur with permission. My parents DID use to say that if you don’t have something good to say about someone to say nothing. 

Then someone on Quora wrote, “Do you liberals have ANYTHING good to say about him?” So I thought and I thought, and I thought some more. Maybe it’s the Christian thing, or maybe just a challenge. So I took some bits from 1440.com, the AP, the Boston Globe, and Daily Kos.

He was consequential

“You didn’t have to like or even listen to Rush Limbaugh to be affected by what he did. Conservative talk radio wasn’t a genre before him. Without Limbaugh, it’s hard to imagine a Fox News Channel, or a President Donald Trump, or a media landscape defined by shouters of all stripes that both reflect and influence a state of political gridlock.”

“’He was the most important individual media figure of the last four decades,” said Ian Reifowitz, professor of historical studies at the State University of New York and author of ‘The Tribalization of Politics: How Rush Limbaugh’s Race-Baiting Rhetoric on the Obama Presidency Paved the Way for Trump.’ Limbaugh led the way in getting people “scared about the browning of the country.”

Changing governmental regs have consequences

“Launched in 1988—shortly after the repeal of a policy requiring equal airtime for opposing commentary on matters of public importance—” his eponymous talk show “expanded to more than 650 affiliate networks, boasting an estimated 20 million monthly listeners “

“There is no talk radio as we know it without Rush Limbaugh. It just doesn’t exist,” said Sean Hannity, who has 15 million radio listeners beyond his Fox News Channel show. “And I’d even make the argument in many ways: there’s no Fox News or even some of these other opinionated cable networks…”

“It wasn’t just that he transformed the media landscape, but he transformed the Republican Party,” said Nicole Hemmer, author of “Messengers of the Right: Conservative Media and the Transformation of American Politics.” “He became a power player and someone who could move voters.”

He made vulgarity acceptable

“Some of Limbaugh’s language was downright ugly. He invented the term ‘feminazi,’ called Chelsea Clinton a ‘dog’ when she was 12 years old and had to apologize for calling a young woman a ‘slut’ for arguing that birth control be covered by health insurance. He mocked the death of AIDS victims and played the parody song ‘Barack the Magic Negro’ when Obama was elected president.

“In the Limbaugh lexicon, advocates for the homeless were ‘compassion fascists,’… environmentalists were ‘tree-hugging wackos.’ He delivered ‘AIDS updates’ with a Dionne Warwick song, ‘I’ll Never Love This Way Again,’ ridiculed Michael J. Fox’s Parkinson’s disease symptoms, and called global warming a hoax.

“The headline on HuffPost’s obituary said Limbaugh ‘saturated America’s airwaves with cruel bigotries, lies and conspiracy theories.’ The Root called him a ‘spouter of racist, hate-filled garbage.'” And he sparked a “firestorm of loud-mouthed, racist, misogynist imitators.”

Ahead of the curve re: fake news

“He was not above baldfaced lies. During the debate over Obama’s 2009 health care bill, he fed the rumor mills over its provisions to have Medicare and insurers pay for optional consultations with doctors on palliative and hospice care, saying they empowered ‘death panels’ that would ‘euthanize’ elderly Americans.

“Limbaugh supported Trump’s false claims that the election was stolen and, on January 7, compared rioters at the Capitol to people who sparked the Revolutionary War.”

His wife apparently loved him

Limbaugh’s wife, Kathryn, made the announcement of his death on his show.

That’s all I’ve got, except for a  Mark Evanier story and some guy talking mostly about himself

GameStop, Robinhood: explain it to me

Bernie meme

Bernie SandersA smart, nearly 80-year-old man wears mittens suitable for a cold DC day. How does it become a meme? And when do we decide it’s over? At least Bernie seems amused if slightly bemused by it.

This pic, BTW, was forwarded to me by my daughter. I have no idea why.

GameStop? What’s a GameStop?

Explain it like I’m 5 years old: A desperate nation tries to understand the GameStop saga. “There better be a test about the GameStop saga. When it burst into the news, I dutifully dropped my other studies and applied myself to the stock market frenzy.

“The short. The short squeeze. Margin call. Payment for order flow. The CBOE Volatility Index. Go ahead, ask me anything.

“Wait, hold on a moment: I swear I understood it like a second ago.”

I think the Globe is correct, that “we’re dealing with a Category 3 story… That’s a story that’s simultaneously complicated and simple, compelling but somehow boring, and can only truly be explained by John Oliver or a kindergarten teacher.

“Category 1: These are stories that are so easy that any civilian could go on CNN with no notice and comment authoritatively. Meghan and Harry leaving the Royal family. Murder hornets…

“Category 2: Stories you will never understand, no matter how hard you try so you can skip right over them. Physicists finding a way to test superstring theory. The new AI tool that cracks the code of protein structures…

“But then there’s the third category, which is when facts you should be able to grasp — if the Wall Street bros can, why not you? We’re not talking Stephen Hawking here — briefly seem within reach, but then slip away.”

Hank Green spends four minutes explaining the “short squeeze.” Whatever that is.

Does it wear green tights?

And what the heck is Robinhood? I’d never of it. According to this two-star review of the app, its “claim to fame is that they do not charge commissions for stock, options, or cryptocurrency trading. Due to industry-wide changes, however, they’re no longer the only free game in town.

“The firm’s target customer base is young people new to investing, who are drawn to the app by advertising that leans heavily on words such as ‘free’ and ‘democratization.’ By and large, this tactic has succeeded, drawing in 10 million accounts held by an unknown number of customers. But what happens to them when they outgrow Robinhood’s meager research capabilities or get frustrated by outages during market surges?”

You know their control of the market is too strong when AOC and Ted Cruz both think so.

Too bad John Oliver is on hiatus. Here, read these pieces from Nation of Change and Business Insider. I think it means…

And

Why is clogging while eating spaghetti so fascinating to me?

Home, or the lack of it

what is required

homeI have long had this peculiar ambivalence about the idea of home. It started as a kid. Our dwelling seemed so small, the first floor of a two-story house.

I seldom had my friends over, though I’d go to several of their homes. My bedroom was carved out of the dining room with two walls my father built. When we visited my mother’s first cousins in St. Albans, Queens, NYC, their house seemed like a mansion.

But that wasn’t it, really. My grandma Williams house was hardly roomy. Yet it was the headquarters where her family would congregate. Based on photographs, this was the case for a number of generations.

It may be that my father and mother didn’t own our house, grandma Williams did. And while this didn’t faze me, I think it ate at my father. Why didn’t he buy a house? Was it that he was shut out of the GI Bill’s provisions, as many black veterans were? Could he not find a house to buy in Binghamton?

I have since found out my parents were barred from renting some places there because they were (incorrectly) perceived to be an interracial couple. Or was his upbringing such that he never thought of himself in that role?

Inkwell

Two things brought this to mind. One piece in my brain is this Boston Globe article, “Claiming land and water on Martha’s Vineyard. Inkwell, a historically Black beach in Oak Bluffs, is a resistance.” It’s about a young black woman who bought a home with her brother. And one of the things she wondered about was whether she was worthy to own a house. And not just for her, but for future generations.

Since I never owned a house before my current address – and I lived in 30+ apartments before that – I totally get that vibe. Add to that all of those stories of people who lose their homes, often to fire or flood. I see them on TV. They almost always say, bravely, “At least everyone’s safe,” if that’s true. “We can always buy more stuff.” Except that the loss of a homestead is more than “stuff.”

Or maybe not. Several years ago, there was a young woman on JEOPARDY who noted that she lost her possessions in a fire. She felt liberated. Alex Trebek appeared aghast.

OT

Another stream in my consciousness was a lectionary reading from December 20.2 Samuel 7:1-11. In part: “Go and tell my servant David: Thus says the Lord: Are you the one to build me a house to live in? I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent and a tabernacle.”

In our Bible study, we kicked around the idea of what is required in a physical structure, whether in a home or a church. Someone commented, “There is something to be said about the church as ‘home.’ To strike the balance of Church as a welcoming architecture of physical materials, comforting relationship, sense of belonging, and vessel for the holy, is I believe the challenge we face.”

Of course, we haven’t been IN our church building for over nine months. The early church was in people’s homes. So do we need a fancy structure? Surely we mourned when Notre Dame burned in Paris. Or when racists torch black churches. These are not just buildings, but symbols of something greater. My previous church burned down twice in a 30-year period, and they rebuilt the current cathedral-like structure in the midst of the Depression.

In conclusion… well, I have no conclusion. I just have musings about the importance and impermanence of place.

Music in the time of COVID, 2020

Six Feet Apart! Stay Away!

In the best of times this century, I’m not listening to much current music. Music in the time of COVID is pretty much the same. It’s always a miracle when I purchase tunes put out by an artist whose first album came out since 2001.

What was your greatest musical discovery?

Freedom HighwayLinda Ronstadt, oddly. I bought one of her Mexican albums, her Capitol albums, plus the complete Trio with Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris. After seeing the documentary about her in the summer of 2019, I was utterly sad that her singing voice has been silenced.

Also, I enjoyed Public Enemy’s It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back far more than I thought. Those riffs from the Temptations, Isaac Hayes and many others were quite enjoyable.

The only 2020 music I bought was Reunions by Jason Isbell And the 400 Unit, and Gaslighter by The Dixie Chicks, I mean The Chicks. Whatever. I swore in 2003 that I’d buy all of their albums. They had not put one out in 14 years, so it hasn’t been a heavy lift.

I’ve actually gotten to see my niece Rebecca Jade singing from her home. I’d seen her perform live only once before, back in 2018, when I visited her mother. I’ve also seen RJ with her occasional collaborator, jazz guitarist Peter Sprague. They’ve had the only live music shows I’ve “attended.”

Perfidia – Linda Ronstadt
Gaslighter – The Chicks
What Have I Done To Help – Jason Isbell And the 400 Unit
Freedom Highway – Rhiannon Giddens, feat. Bhi Bhiman
Party for Your Right to Fight – Public Enemy
Western Stars – Bruce Springsteen

Rebecca Jade videos

COVIDy

The Boston Globe compiled 40 songs about the coronavirus pandemic. I’ve actually heard several of these without even trying, usually on a news show.

Six Feet Apart – Luke Combs
Do What You Can  -Bon Jovi
Let Your Love Be Known – Bono
Stay Away – Randy Newman
This Too Shall Pass – Mike Love featuring John Stamos

And there were “songs written before the virus spread but released because the tracks resonate with the current times.”

Living In A Ghost Town – The Rolling Stones
Tryin’ to Keep It Together – Norah Jones
We’re All In This Together Now  – John Paul White featuring Rosanne Cash
Grateful – Jewel

VMAs?

Here’s a matter of self-curiosity. I watched the Video Music Awards this year for the first time in more than a decade. It aired on August 30, but I didn’t actually view it until October. And then in 15-25 minute segments.

As you might imagine, there were people I had never once heard of, CNCO, Maluma, and Doja Cat, who my daughter does not like for some reason. Then there are the ones whose names I’d seen but could not have identified, such as Chloe X Halle and DaBaby.

So THAT’S what The Weeknd looks like. (And he’s significant enough that my spellcheck accepts the spelling of his name.)

Thank goodness for some veteran acts such as Black Eyed Peas and Miley Cyrus. Because my daughter was obsessed a couple of years ago, I actually know more about BTS than any sexagenarian needs to. They premiered the song Dynamite and soon enough it’s not only #1 in the country with half a billion views but playing on some television ad. (For what, IDK, and don’t tell me because I don’t care.)

Lady Gaga won every category for which she was nominated, one with Ariana Grande including a new category.

Dynamite – BTS
Rain On Me – Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande

Quote a song lyric that sums up your year

Nobody told me there’d be days like these (X3)
Strange days indeed
Most peculiar, Mama

Nobody told me – John Lennon (1984, posthumous)