It is by no means certain that anti-Asian racism was a motive in the recent attacks on massage parlors in Atlanta and the murder of eight employees of these parlors, six of whom were Asian women. Robert Long, the suspect now held in custody, has denied that racism was a motive and, instead, claims that he suffers from sexual addiction and was motivated by a desire to remove these parlors as a source of temptation for him. Whatever the motive, it is a tragedy and yet another reason to investigate how it is that people with obvious mental health issues can so easily access guns. I am no critic of the 2nd Amendment, but something needs to be done to keep guns out of the hands of those who are mentally disturbed. Clearly, whatever laws and policies that exist now are not achieving that end.
But, there has been an increase in violent attacks on Asian Americans, according to this article by NBC News. Attacks on Asian Americans increased by nearly 150% from 2019 to 2020 , even as hate crimes against other minority communities decreased during the year of the pandemic. That spike corresponded to the rise of the pandemic in the U. S. last spring, and with the rise in descriptions of the virus as the “China virus” by President Trump and other conservative politicians. Other factors likely contributed to the rise, as well, according to Karthick Ramakrishnan, founder and director of demographic data and policy research nonprofit AAPI Data. AAPI stands for Asian American Pacific Islander, which is why we see people holding signs now reading “Stop AAPI Hate”. “There’s a complex variety of factors,” Ramakrishnan said, “but the fundamental reality is that there’s an increase in the number of Asian Americans who feel unsafe.” According to a report by Stop AAPI Hate, there were just shy of 3800 hate crimes against Asians in the U. S. in 2020. You can visit their website here.
Even considering the rise in the number of hate crimes against Asian Americans, the numbers are not huge. The greatest increase was in New York City, where there were 28 attacks on Asian Americans in 2020 as against three in 2019. The number of attacks in LA rose from seven to 15, and in Boston from six to 14. Attacks declined in Washington, DC, from six to three and remained steady in Chicago with two attacks in both years. Considering that the population of New York City is 8.4 million, 28 such attacks does not represent a newly declared war on Asian Americans by the citizens of New York. This isn’t to dismiss the attacks or the increase in such attacks. It is to put them in perspective and question if some of the fear that Asian Americans are feeling is more a result of the attention given to the attacks and less a reflection of the reality the great majority of Asian Americans experience every day. There is no reason Asian Americans should be leaving their homes with the expectation of being attacked, unless one lives in those neighborhoods in those cities where this has become a problem.
The media profits from fomenting hysteria, both monetarily and politically, so they have a vested interest in making everyone feel under attack. The quick judgment by many media outlets that the Atlanta murders were motivated by racism with no evidence yet to suggest so is an example of this. As well, if one hears over and over again about attacks on innocent Asian Americans, even if the attacks remain relatively few and isolated to particular cities and particular areas within those cities, it causes tension, anxiety, and fear across the country, as opposed to focusing attention on those areas where legitimate concern is warranted. Also, we simply cannot dismiss the fact that there has developed in our culture a level of social cache in being a member of a victimized group. Victim status automatically raises one’s credibility in the world of intersectionality. There are activists who are more than eager to exploit such status.
As usual, balance and perspective will be tossed aside by media, political and activist elites in any discussion about race and violence. We can better support our Asian American fellow citizens, as well as Asian guests and students in our country, by focusing activity to prevent violence and other attacks against them or anyone in those areas where a real problems exists, while encouraging everyone to remain calm and kind in all our encounters with others.
Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.