To those who noted the steady uptick in violent crimes against Asian Americans since the start of the covid-19 pandemic, Tuesday’s mass shooting comes as a shock, but no surprise. Eight people are dead following a string of shootings at three Atlanta-area massage parlors; six of the victims were Asian women.
The incident has prompted an outpouring of concern from Asian Americans across the country, including Congresswoman Judy Chu, a Democrat from California, who suggested that former President Trump is complicit in Tuesday’s shooting.
From the Washington Post:
“President Trump clearly stoked the flames of xenophobia against AAPIs with his rhetoric,” said Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) at a Capitol Hill news conference Wednesday. “The CDC and the World Health Organization said we should all use the official term covid-19 in order to make sure this disease is not associated with a particular geographical location or ethnicity due to the stigma it causes. And President Trump refused to acknowledge that and instead used the terms ‘China virus,’ ‘Wuhan Virus’ and ‘Kung flu.’”
In a telephone interview with Fox News’s Maria Bartiromo Tuesday night, the former president again used the term “China virus” to describe the coronavirus.
Chu said Trump and his followers doubled down on the rhetoric and “what we saw yesterday is the result of that.”
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries from New York added that members of Congress who copied Trump’s sinophobic rhetoric should “cut it out because you also have blood on your hands.”
The shooting suspect, a 21-year-old white man named Robert Aaron Long, told investigators that he had a “sexual addiction” and that the massage parlors were “a temptation for him that he wanted to eliminate.” And one witness told South Korean newspaper, The Chosun Ilbo, that Long shouted “I am going to kill all Asians” as he opened fire.
This isn’t much of a stretch: A racist white man allegedly kills several Asian women he simultaneously fetishizes. But this simple deduction is half-baked leap for some. During a Wednesday morning press conference, Captain Jay Baker of the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office said that Long claimed the shooting wasn’t racially motivated. Baker’s own wording appeared to validate that claim, as he went on to explain why Long found the massage parlors so distressing.
But perhaps Baker isn’t the best resource for unpacking how Long’s sexual frustration could manifest into racist violence. After all, a little poke around Baker’s Facebook page revealed that last year, Baker ordered several covid-19 inspired shirts that read “Imported virus from Chy-na.” This is all but a direct quote from Trump.
Baker should consider sitting this one out.