Social Question

Demosthenes's avatar

Is it important that the shootings in Atlanta be racially motivated?

Asked by Demosthenes (11535points) 3 weeks ago

So far there is no conclusive evidence that racism was a motive. The shooter has denied it, though the extent to which we can take the word of a mass murderer at face value is debatable. It’s clear he was targeting massage parlors, and Asian women disproportionately work at these places. If it’s found that racism was not the motive, is it still crucial to speak of these shootings as racist in nature?

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61 Answers

KNOWITALL's avatar

Not to me, especially if it’s untrue. That only muddies the water further.
I feel it was likely religiously motivated, per his saying those places tempted him sexually so he had to remove the temptation.
But there could be a racial component, as many men seem to love/obsess over the idea of a small subservient Asians, of both sexes.
I’m not completely sold either way on the motivation yet.

.

Zaku's avatar

Well, IF it is somehow found that it’s certain we know the reason had nothing to do with racism (not even a perception that these victims were “more ok to kill” in the mind of the killer), then certainly no, it would make no sense to say they were racially motivated.

But how hard is it to imagine an investigation turning up evidence that definitely rules out race as a factor in this white guy (who “loved God and guns” according to the police) just happening to kill eight Asian women, when “China Virus” is a phrase that may correlate with his demographics, and violence against Asians has recently risen 50%?

Why would you think to frame a question where you’re conjuring the idea that may be the outcome of the investigation?

How much denial of xenophobia and racism does it take to look at this news event and immediately go to “hmm, what if it’s just a coincidence this white guy shot 9 non-whites, 8 of whom were Asian women (and all of them fatally)?” Because the possibility (how probable, do you think?) that this guy wasn’t racist is really the important thing to think about here, huh?

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Zaku If anything, it seems more like Implicit Bias than actual racism to me. Without more facts, this is all supposition.

What it is:
Thoughts and feelings are “implicit” if we are unaware of them or mistaken about their nature. We have a bias when, rather than being neutral, we have a preference for (or aversion to) a person or group of people. Thus, we use the term “implicit bias” to describe when we have attitudes towards people or associate stereotypes with them without our conscious knowledge. A fairly commonplace example of this is seen in studies that show that white people will frequently associate criminality with black people without even realizing they’re doing it.

stanleybmanly's avatar

The question as posed is peculiar. It would be interesting to poll the victims on whether the motivation behind the shootings mattered more than the acts themselves. I believe it safe to assume the answer to that one.

janbb's avatar

This article clarifies the anger I feel at this question and at the racist police officer (proven by his history) who claimed that the killer was just having a “bad day.” Bad cops and old white judges, white terrorists and privileged white boys are a big part of what is wrong with this country today. The excuse of him having sexual urges sounds just like the frat boys who rape because she was wearing a shirt skirt. Hope the link will open; I had to white list it.

https://www.chicagotribune.com/columns/rex-huppke/ct-atlanta-shootings-asian-robert-long-bad-day-huppke-20210317-eqrcfb3dlfe4vlwtfigwpvdifq-story.html

elbanditoroso's avatar

You’re totally missing the point.

The shooter is another loner, pissed off, uneducated white guy with a gun. Like so many others.

Forgetting tracking Muslims or Arabs or Kurds or Turks or Iranians. Get serious about tracking single angry white men.

hello321's avatar

If Asian Americans have been feeling unsafe lately due to real or perceived anti-Asian sentiment in the US, do you think the killing of six Asian women in one night by a self-professed all-American guy (“Pizza, guns, drums, music, family, and God. This pretty much sums up my life. It’s a pretty good life.”) is going to ease those fears?

I don’t know the answer to the question. But I do know that the question itself is currently a so-called controversy because there is an immediate need to apologize for white crime. This is irrefutable and can be easily seen when you imagine this to be a 21 year-old black male murdering 6 white women. The very people that proactively declare “race not a factor” are the same who would be engaged in immediate condemnation of “racist attack”.

What I do find interesting is that this type of thing is quite normal, very “American”, and people try to explain this as though it’s a mystery. A guy in a completely normal society that glorifies guns buys a gun. This deeply religious man, who believes in this completely normal society’s dominant religion, expresses that he feels guilt about sex, so he is tortured. He kills 8 people that his religion deems dirty and immoral and responsible for his extreme guilt, and these 8 people are hardly a blip in the national firearm murder stats for the year.

JLeslie's avatar

If it is true it is outrageous to ignore it or play it down. It certainly looks racially motivated.

Reminds me of white Republican politicians and talking heads on TV initially saying the Charleston shooting was an attack on Christians. How dare they. It was obvious to me to ask if it was a Black church even if we didn’t know yet. I remember fluther kind of ripped into me like I’m racist because I used the term black church. WTH? That’s ridiculous.

I think @elbanditoroso has an excellent answer.

If this somehow is found not to be an Asian hate crime (for the record it will be really hard to convince me of that) it is still a hate crime against women, who are still considered to be minorities by the way in many instances, I don’t know if women are specified in hate crime law.

There is an increase in Asian attacks, which must be addressed, but as usual the media now has gone so far on the topic it might backfire. I hope not.

The main point is white men feeling empowered to harm others who they view subhuman or as disposable. So disgusting, and it is terrifying. I put myself in the shoes of those women.

Irukandji's avatar

@KNOWITALL Implicit bias about race isn’t an alternative to racism. It is a type of racism. The notion that only hatred and overt acts count as “actual” racism is one of the biggest roadblocks to moving forward on these issues.

janbb's avatar

@JLeslie I agree with much of what you said except this statement doesn’t make sense to me. You said:

“There is an increase in Asian attacks, which must be addressed, but as usual the media now has gone so far on the topic it might backfire.”

First of all, I never understand why people on here and elsewhere talk about “the media” as if it were a monolith. But secondly, how would we know there was a problem with anti-Asian racist attacks if they weren’t covered by the news outlets? I don’t understand what going too far means in this context.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Irukandji Correct. I’m just saying this kid saying he wasn’t a racist, then killing many Asian women he associated with happy endings, only makes sense in that context.

JLeslie's avatar

@janbb Of course it should be covered. I am always in favor of reporting the news, and especially pointing out where civil rights are under attack, crimes against minorities, unsafe conditions at work or housing, to me these are things are what America is supposed supposed to fight against, we are supposed to be a place of freedom, safety, and equality.

I also agree the media is not a monolith. Let me be more specific. Cable news now suddenly has multiple East Asian reporters reporting on it. Most of them women I have never seen before. Reminds me of when a news anchor friend of mine said a lot of people in her field were changing their last names to Spanish last names, because stations were looking for Hispanic reporters.

MSNBC or CNN, I really don’t know which, I have watched both the last two days, have brought up that we now have an Asian Vice President. Implying what? That the WS might be reacting to that? I don’t think ignorant WS people even know what countries are on the continent of Asia, plus most Americans equate Asian with East Asian, which I never understood, but that’s how it is. Maybe now some people have learned something with our new Vice President being elected, but I think ignorant people think in terms of the old use of Oriental as their target population when it comes to the China flu. I hate to even write the term.

My own SIL several years ago had her DNA test done with ancestry and was telling me it was about 50% West Asian, and 25% Southern Europe and 25% Western Europe (I’m rounding) and I stated, so it’s exactly what we would guess. Then she felt the need to start to explain to me the countries in West Asia because she didn’t realize her family is from Asia even though she knows what countries they are from.

My point is a lot of people are more ignorant than you, and they think very differently than you, and getting through to them is different than how to get through to you. You seem blind to what the Republicans will be able to grab and twist. Not that my SIL is a Republican, I don’t want to imply that, she hated Trump and has always been a Democrat in America. I’m not only talking about Republicans, but also other people who might quickly tune out. Not that my SIL would tune out, she was just an example of the typical level of geography knowledge in our country.

This type of crime is not only about Asians it is about all of us, but I am sure you identify with it as much as I do. We know we could be next.

Anyway, bringing in the VP and a lot of Asian reporters seems like an over rotation and makes some people roll their eyes. I don’t roll my eyes, I just worry about the effect.

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flutherother's avatar

The victims weren’t random, they were chosen. Not once, but three times. These will be seen as racist murders not just in the US but across the world. Captain Baker’s remarks showing sympathy for a mass murderer and none towards his victims are simply chilling. Black lives matter, Asian lives matter all lives matter.

JLeslie's avatar

Ugh, sorry for typos above.

@flutherother Can’t say all lives matter.

kritiper's avatar

No, it is not important. Of note, yes, but not important.

flutherother's avatar

@JLeslie I’m not sure what you mean.

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JLeslie's avatar

@janbb Oh, that explains it. So his normal reaction makes sense. In America we didn’t allow for that reaction.

@flutherother My apologies.

Demosthenes's avatar

My problem is the racism narrative hasn’t really been substantiated yet but it will be the dominant narrative regardless of what is discovered about the shooter’s actual motives. I personally want to know why people do things like this so they can be prevented in the future. If racism is the reason, so be it. But if there are other reasons (some of which have been referenced in a few of these answers) or racism does not end up being the reason, those shouldn’t be ignored in favor of the racism narrative.

sadiesayit's avatar

“But if there are other reasons . . . those shouldn’t be ignored in favor of the racism narrative.”

Can I ask where this specific concern of yours is coming from?

Irukandji's avatar

@KNOWITALL Okay, I think I understand what you mean. When you said “it seems more like Implicit Bias than actual racism,” you meant something like “his racism is subconscious, unlike the racism of people who go around declaring themselves to be racially superior.” Is that right? If so, I think you very well might be correct.

@JLeslie Why should anyone care what someone “will be able to grab and twist” when that includes everything that anyone could possibly say or do ever? A person, party, or faction that has no allegiance to the truth will distort anything. And if they have trouble distorting it, they’ll flat out lie. Not speaking the truth because you’re worried that someone will distort it is just doing their job for them.

Also, there’s nothing wrong with saying “all lives matter,” especially in a context like “Black lives matter, Asian lives matter, all lives matter.” The problem is when people say “all lives matter” in order to avoid saying “Black (or Asian) lives matter” (or to denigrate the Black Lives Matter movement).

Demosthenes's avatar

@sadiesayit Just based on what I’m reading online and in the news right now. That the takeaway is that this was a racist attack even though we don’t know that unless we’re defining the killing of Asians as inherently racist regardless of the killer’s motives.

JLeslie's avatar

@Irukandji So you think everyone in America who had the reaction all lives matter was saying that to avoid saying Black Lives Matter? Maybe some people just had an immediate reaction like @flutherother that all lives matter.

The constant political games, fear, hate, and hypocrisy is affecting the entire country.

In my state I believe the games killed more people than who had to die from covid. I’m angry about it, and tired of it.

mazingerz88's avatar

IF this murderer asshole is a religious zealot who couldn’t handle his guilt for getting handjobs probably from these same women he killed and that’s the only reason he did what he did then to me it’s not an issue of racism.

But if in his mind any woman who massages a man’s body should be punished and yet he chose only Asians to be his victims…he deserves an Asian to inject lethal injection on him.

flutherother's avatar

@JLeslie I understand your comment now.

mazingerz88's avatar

It seems his family kicked him out of the house because he was obsessed with sex and he lashed out on those poor women to eliminate his temptation. He goes to these spas. Terrible.

janbb's avatar

In America, “All lives matter” was always said in reaction to the statement “Black Lives Matter.” It was a way of obscuring the fact that what was being talked about was that Black men and youth were being killed disproportionately in encounters with police. Any obfuscation of that truth is a falsehood. (Which is not to understand that someone from another country wouldn’t know that context.)

JLeslie's avatar

@janbb I’m on board with why Black Lives Matter was an important slogan. I’m not on board with telling all people who have the initial reaction all lives matter that they are a piece of racist garbage. We can explain why BLM is important without being bitchy and obnoxious, but all across social media it was exactly that. It put a portion of white people on the defense, because it could be twisted up, even white people who really cared about police brutality against Black people.

I don’t even think true WSs would react by saying all lives matter—think about it. They don’t care about Blacks, Jews, Asians, they are happy to put us in our graves, or at minimum scare us into submission.

JLeslie's avatar

@Demosthenes What I know is that if that had been a Jewish deli and the shooter said, “I was angry at waiters,” I would never let go of the fact that he chose a JEWISH restaurant. I’m going to show the same understanding to Asians.

I remember when there was a mass shooting at a Jewish nursing home and some tried to dismiss that as not antisemitic. That incident was many years ago. Just last year the FBI foiled a bombing at a Jewish nursing home. We could cite multiple incidents targeted at Jewish community centers, synagogues, and Asians are having a similar experience.

The general public is not aware of all the incidents so it’s easier for them to dismiss it or say people shoot white people too. People have amnesia or never noticed it in the news to begin with when they don’t identify with the group.

kritiper's avatar

His family kicked him out? At age 21? He looks like a deadbeat.
Where did he get that nice car and the money for the gun he used? (Not to mention gas money…) They (the manufacturers) don’t just give that stuff away…
Talk about enabling!

KNOWITALL's avatar

There’s some great articles on the bbc today about Asian hate crimes, if anyone’s interested. Apparently they are on patrol in San Fran, as a community, after the elderly lady was attacked recently.
And if you haven’t heard about that, and 89 year old woman was punched brutally in the face and she grabbed a piece of wood and took down the 39 year old white man who attacked her. She walked away with a bleeding eye and hurting wrist, he left on a stretcher. Yay grandma!

kritiper's avatar

Yes! Way to kick ass, Grandma!

JLeslie's avatar

What exactly are these white men saying when they are arrested? Why are they attacking elderly Asian people? Are they doing copy cat crimes? Are they all talking about it in chat rooms? Are their local groups making them do it like an initiation like we see in gangs? What exactly is going on? Obviously, elderly people are perceived as easier marks, less likely to be able to fight back, but still curious how this is rolling out.

mazingerz88's avatar

^^Black teens and male adults also attacked elderly Asians in some cases. I think.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@JLeslie So far it seems like coast-urban areas in the articles I read. Maybe @stan or someone knows more.

JLeslie's avatar

@mazingerz88 Is it just they are seen as easy targets? Attacking the elderly is not new among gangs as an initiation. Are the WS type men going back and bragging about what they did to their peers?

Not sure if the Black incidences are tied into the white incidences somehow. The messaging about covid and vaccines goes across both groups. A lot of it through religious circles. I was just talking to my reporter in Kenya two days ago, and Christian groups there also think you can pray covid away, they warn against taking the vaccine, and say very similar things to the American fundamentalist Christian groups here.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Stan knows (as we all do) that coastal urban areas are where you will find concentrations of Asians, black teens and male adults, every variety and class of individual eager to don the mantle of victimhood and no shortage of deranged lunatics to prey on them for attention.

JLeslie's avatar

For reference to what I mentioned here are two articles he wrote. He is reporting in Tanzania here, the Tanzanian President recently died from covid, but lots of the same rhetoric in Kenya. They are neighboring countries.

https://religionnews.com/2021/03/12/amid-deadly-resurgence-tanzanian-officials-maintain-they-can-pray-the-coronavirus-devil-away/

https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2021/march/tanzania-magufuli-dies-covid-president-burundi-god-punishme.html

KNOWITALL's avatar

@stanley Have you heard anything about the motivation locally?

Demosthenes's avatar

The motivation for some of the attacks here in the Bay Area has been robbery, but in other cases it isn’t clear. Some people (some have been black, some have been white) have simply walked up to an elderly Asian person, punched them, and run off.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Demosthenes That is so not okay.

Here’s the granny fights back video, from San Fran, if anyone wants to watch.
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-56453806

I believe this man was attacked in New York.
https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-us-canada-56446812

JLeslie's avatar

This was in NYC a few weeks ago. You might recognize the actress Olivia Munn. She explains why older Asians are less likely to report attacks. https://youtu.be/nqfnqBWrri0

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stanleybmanly's avatar

@KNOWITALL You are more up to date than I. The downside to being “retired” is that I just plain do not get around. Prior to the pandemic, I was all over this town with a real feel for trends and events. Nowadays, it’s only broadcast news that wires me to the town. The wife is an extraordinary contradiction concerning news of the town. She is nosy as hell yet remains studiously oblivious of raging news or controversy. I asked her this morning what she thought of this victimization of Asians and she had no idea what I was talking about. She’s out now with her lifelong girlfriend of Indonesian descent and I wonder if they will even discuss this.

Blackberry's avatar

Do people usually get on a soapbox and admit the true intentions of their crimes, though?
I can’t think of any time anyone actually said “Yes, I hate arabs because of 9/11, so this is why I target arabs and people I think are muslims for my own harrassment and assaults. I am a racist, please charge me with a hate crime.”
As long as you’re quiet, you can’t actually prove racism or sexism, and this leads to people thinking it “dosen’t exist because there’s no proof”.

People are smart enough to hide their prejudices…..

Irukandji's avatar

JLeslie: “It’s never okay to say ‘all lives matter’ in the US.”
Me: “Sometimes people say it in a context where it’s okay.”
JLeslie: “So you’re saying everyone says it in a bad context?”

The “logic” of our resident bothsidesing faux centrist.

@JLeslie “I don’t even think true WSs would react by saying all lives matter—think about it. They don’t care about Blacks, Jews, Asians, they are happy to put us in our graves, or at minimum scare us into submission.”

So you think they are willing to kill, but you don’t think they are willing to lie or otherwise hide the fact that they are white supremacists?

“What I know is that if that had been a Jewish deli and the shooter said, ‘I was angry at waiters,’ I would never let go of the fact that he chose a JEWISH restaurant.”

He didn’t go to one massage parlor that happened to be owned by Asians. He went to three, and was possibly on his way to a fourth. And according to one of the survivors, he was yelling “I’m going to kill all Asians!” And now it looks like the police spokesman who made excuses for him has engaged in some anti-Asian racist behavior as well.

JLeslie's avatar

@Irukandji I don’t know why you are telling me about how this guy was yelling I’m going to kill all Asians? Are you just writing that to show you agree with me on that point?

KNOWITALL's avatar

@stanleybmanly Well, the news is horrible right now, you can’t blame her.

@Irukandji The news said they didn’t have enough evidence to charge him with a hate crime, but I tend to agree with you on the fact that he targeted Asians. At first that wasn’t clear.

Irukandji's avatar

@JLeslie Yes. I was trying to emphasize the point that there’s no reason in this case to let go of the shooter’s choice of victims.

@KNOWITALL On the one hand, the article I just posted was written before this question was asked. But it takes time for local news to filter up into the national news, so I agree with you that the evidence wasn’t as broadly available then as it is now. To be completely honest, I’ve never been a fan of bleeding edge topical questions. They pretty much demand that people speak out of ignorance, and they often come off as either concern trolling or an attempt to lock in a narrative before the facts show up to get in the way.

Demosthenes's avatar

I had not heard anything about him yelling that he wanted to kill Asians when I posted this question. All I had heard was that the victims were mostly Asian and that it was immediately being blamed on racism despite the lack of evidence to support that. I would not reject racism as a motive if it became clear that it was. If he did indeed say he wanted to kill Asians, then I guess we don’t need to question the motive much further. As I said above, my issue was the priority of narrative over facts, which is widespread in the media. Narratives are often resistant to change if additional facts come out to disprove them and yet narratives drive our thinking and policy. So it does matter.

mazingerz88's avatar

Media narratives do not necessarily drive my thinking. I don’t make policies. Not sure who makes policies based on media narratives.

Demosthenes's avatar

@mazingerz88 Well look at the difference between the media narratives surrounding the two recent mass shootings. The first one was about racism and the response was all to do with racism. The second was all about guns and now there’s talk of new gun legislation. Not saying that either narrative or response is wrong, but I think it’s clear that media narratives and politics absolutely correlate and influence each other.

sadiesayit's avatar

What narratives do you think have been disproven yet continue to drive thinking and policy?

I’m struggling with this idea of “narrative” with respect to this mass shooting.

This shooting didn’t start either “narrative,” or what I would instead call “ongoing sociopolitical issues.” Not the issue of violence and racism against Asian-Americans, and not the issue of US gun laws. Both have existed and have been talked about long before this occurred.

This incident matched patterns of pre-existing issues of racism and lax gun laws, and continued to do so the more information came out. That’s why it has been discussed in those terms—because the shoe fits.

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