Washington: When the most powerful political leader in the world, former President Donald Trump, declares that China is responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic, using the racist term Kung-Flu during his election campaigns, it was bound to have some serious repercussions, then and now.
The series of shootings in Atlanta on March 16, targeted disproportionately at Asian women, killing eight of them, including one man, is being widely attributed to the hate wave against Asian Americans, fuelled incessantly by members of the Grand Old Party (GOP).
Just between last March and February 28 this year, the `Stop Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Hate, a group that tracks incidents of attacks against Asian-Americans and Pacific Islander individuals, received 3,795 reports of harassment, including assaults that resulted in deaths. The Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino also recorded a 150% increase in hate crimes against Asian-Americans, most of the US’s largest cities, with an Asian presence, in 2020.
Trump spent his four years in office brazenly perpetuating anti-Asian sentiments, triggering the rash of attacks on Asian Americans. President Joe Biden’s son having business interests in China also became a major election issue. As a result support for Asian businesses dropped drastically, while several Asians reported being confronted with racist slurs, attacks in public places, threatening them with mock gun actions as if hitting on Asians was going to reduce covid cases in any way.
The Trump administration and several Republicans including Paul Gosar (R-Ariz) and the then Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, started referring to the virus as the “China virus” or the “Wuhan virus”, last year, which escalated during the election campaign. Hardly any efforts were made to educate their supporters to sanitize and wear masks, instead of looking for the next Asian to attack.
Sheriff Jay Baker, spokesperson of the Cherokee County police station, where the recent attacks happened fueled perceptions of white supremacy and Christian terrorism, by refusing to call it a racist, hate crime. He instead explained that the 21-year-old gunman Robert Aaron Lang, was “ fed up, at the end of his rope…yesterday was a really bad day for him and this is what he did”. He went on to say that Lang “apparently has an issue, what he considers a sex addiction, and sees these locations as something that allows him to go to these places, and it’s a temptation for him that he wanted to eliminate,”
Though the police insisted that it was too early to call it a racist attack, the local Korean media, which interviewed the only surviving witness, reported that the shooter before gunning them all yelled, “I am going to kill all Asians”. The story has now been picked up by one of South Korea’s top newspapers, Chosun Ilbo, after four of the eight women shot in Cherokee county were identified as Korean-Americans.
The police also stated that Lang had denied going on a mass shooting spree, when he had visited almost 20 spas, killing these women in three of them, while on his way to Florida to check out the porn industry there!
Georgia state Rep. Bee Nguyen said the shootings appear to be at the “intersection of gender-based violence, misogyny and xenophobia.”
An identical scenario where the country’s top leaders are guilty of fueling hatred against a particular community and not held accountable for it, was also witnessed in India last year, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi and several senior ministers from his cabinet, including the Home Minister Amit Shah, attacked members of the Tablighi Jamaat, a transnational Islamic missionary group, for bringing the Coronavirus into the country.
As a result there was a non-stop, vicious media campaign against them, resulting in a call for violence against them for months.
Legal proceedings were ordered against many of the members including several foreign nationals, who were later acquitted by Indian courts across India, citing “malicious intention of the Ministry of home affairs”.
Over 9,000 missionaries attended the congregation, with the majority being from various states of India, and 960 attendees from 40 foreign countries.
The Bombay High court, while dismissing some of the petitions, against the jamaatis observed that, “apolitical government tries to find the scapegoat when there is pandemic or calamity and the circumstances show that there is probability that these foreigners were chosen to make them scapegoats.”
The witch hunt was so intense that the tablighi jamaatis, were being identified from different states and subjected to extreme harassment besides several days of quarantine in poor government facilities. The situation was so bad that one young jamaati in Maharashtra committed suicide, even before he was confirmed as COVID positive.
The attack on the jamaatis of course was just one of the many attacks on the Muslim minority by the Indian government, to keep fueling communal hatred, in an effort to hide their incompetencies, which was clearly evident during its failure to contain the COVID crisis.
“These attacks in both the countries are not the first nor will be the last, The deeply embedded hate by the country’s top leaders themselves would ensure that the attacks will continue, even when they are out of office, as witnessed in the US yesterday. Fixing accountability, therefore, is a must, to contain these racial attacks fueled by hate.”, said Dr. Shaik Ubaid, the national co-chair of ASPAIRE.