Asian-Americans pay the price for Trump's hate

The deadly attack on three Asian-American-run massage parlors in Atlanta has put the spotlight yet again on the recent rise in violence against Asian-Americans.

The deadly attack on three Asian-American-run massage parlors in Atlanta, killing eight people, six of whom were Asian women, has put the spotlight yet again on the rise in violence against Asian-Americans over the last year.

The police say it’s still too early to know whether the Atlanta attack was racially-motivated, but regardless of motive, the recent increase in attacks against people of Asian descent is undeniable.

  • Eighty-four-year-old Vichar Ratanapakdee was taking his morning walk in San Francisco when he was shoved to the ground. Two days later, he died.

  • A 61-year-old Filipino man had his face slashed with a pair of box cutters on the New York City subway.

  • A Burmese family was stabbed inside a Texas Sam’s club.

  • A 91-year-old Asian man was shoved to the ground in Oakland, California’s Chinatown.

  • On the New York City subway, a man slapped a Chinese-American woman’s hands, threatened to throw his lighter at her, then called her a “ch*nk bitch,” and told her to “get the f*ck out of NYC.”

Many of the altercations are verbal. In California, a Chinese-American woman was jogging when a man pulled up beside her and yelled “Coronavirus!” And a man on the DC subway shouted “Chinese bitch” at an Asian-American woman; then coughed at, and physically threatened, her and her boyfriend.

There were 3,800 anti-Asian incidents recorded in the US over the year of the pandemic, ranging from racist speech to physical assaults — 68% of which were directed against against Asian-American women. And the NYPD reports that anti-Asian hate crimes in New York City jumped 1,900% in 2020.

It’s hard to quantify the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, and Donald Trump’s response to it, in helping to inflame these tensions, but they surely didn’t help. Trump continues to repeatedly refer to Covid as “the Chinese flu” — watch here and here — and Trump and his White House staff even jokingly called the Coronavirus “the Kung-Flu.” Trump clearly wanted to blame China for his own ineptitude in handling the virus, and it wouldn’t be surprising if that message sank in with some Americans. In fact, Trump repeated the “China virus” slur the very night of the Atlanta massage parlor shootings.

But Trump went further than that. He created an entire culture of intolerance towards all minorities, and really anyone he didn’t feel sufficiently loved by. As the ADL’s Jonathan Greenblatt noted on CNN, Trump routinely invited white supremacist media to the White House, and retweeted their messages. And who can forget Trump calling the neo-Nazis who murdered a young woman in Charlottesville “very fine people”?

There was a tolerance of intolerance that permeated the Trump White House, and the entire Republican party — and still does. None of that helps when societal tensions rise during an unprecedented pandemic and economic crisis. At his best, Trump was indifferent to the hate. At his worst, he enabled it. And now a growing number of Asian-Americans are paying the price.

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