Pizza, guns, drums, music, family, and God…and racism. Mustn’t forget the racism.


I grew up with a grossly racist grandfather — he survived the Pacific War of WWII and came out of it with alcoholism and an abiding contempt for the Japanese. I heard so many racial slurs! He knew them all, and hated them. What I got out of it, though, was the stark contrast between what he said and what I knew. This was in the Pacific Northwest; I had many friends of Asian descent, I worked my way through summers in high school in the employ of Taki Nagasawa, who’s ethnicity you might guess from the name. What I learned from the experience was that my drunken grandpa was full of shit. That’s all. That when a racist starts spewing racism you should simply disbelieve everything he says.

So when Donald Trump started babbling about the “Chinese Flu” or the “Kung Flu”, what I saw was Drunk Grandpa raging from his armchair, sloshed to the gills on Budweiser. He’s wrong. I can ignore everything he says. Unfortunately, I can’t ignore the criminally moronic people who believed him, now fueling a wave of anti-Asian violence.

Hatred against Asian-Americans is being expressed far more freely now.

Asian Americans reported nearly 3,800 hate-related incidents during the pandemic, a number that experts believe to be just a fraction of the true total.

From 19 March 2020 to 28 February 2021, Asian Americans from all 50 states experienced everything ranging from verbal abuse to physical assaults, from getting coughed on to getting denied services because of their ethnicity, according to a report released on Tuesday by Stop AAPI Hate, a not-for-profit coalition tracking incidents of violence, discrimination and harassment.

More than 68% of the abuse was verbal harassment or name-calling, while 11.1% was physical, the report found.

Once again, I find myself looking from my Asian-American friends to these abusive assholes, unable to comprehend how wrong they are. It’s madness. Why are you saying these outrageous untruths, why are you treating your fellow citizens with such contempt?

I haven’t even begun to plumb the depths of the hatred. Yesterday, a man deliberately walked into three Asian-American businesses and opened fire, killing 8 people, including 6 women of Asian descent. It’s a clear case of racial targeting and mass murder. They’ve caught the murderer, a scraggly-bearded 21 year old white man. We’re already hearing what a good kid he was.

Long was described as a religious person by a former classmate at Sequoyah High. The 21-year-old graduated in 2017. The classmate said Long’s dad was a pastor, and he had seemed “innocent” and “nerdy.”

“He was very innocent seeming and wouldn’t even cuss,” the classmate told The Daily Beast. “He was sorta nerdy and didn’t seem violent from what I remember. He was a hunter and his father was a youth minister or pastor. He was big into religion.”

Social media posts from the Crabapple First Baptist Church show Long and his family had a lengthy history with the church. Long’s father is not listed as a pastor at the church. The elders of the church released a statement to Heavy.com, saying they were “grieved” and “heartbroken.”

“We are grieved to hear the tragic news about the multiple deaths in the Atlanta area. We are heartbroken for all involved,” the statement said. “We grieve for the victims and their families, and we continue to pray for them. Moreover, we are distraught for the Long family and continue to pray for them as well.”

Posts indicate he attended the church with his mom, dad and his younger sister. His mother organized events at the church, like a movie night with a cotton candy machine.

He wouldn’t even cuss! But he could draw a gun and cold-bloodedly kill young women.

His mom sponsored movie nights! With a cotton candy machine! I bet the movies were all rated “G”, too. But she raised a son with a broken moral compass.

Long was also involved with the church’s Student Ministry Team as recently as 2018, according to minutes from a meeting of the elders. He was one of 11 people who served as team members, which “exists to see students receive Jesus Christ as Lord, and walk in Him, being rooted in the faith.”

The Daily Beast reported an Instagram account that “appeared to belong” to Long professed his love of God and guns.

“Pizza, guns, drums, music, family, and God. This pretty much sums up my life. It’s a pretty good life,” a tagline for the account said.

Maybe the church and his family taught him the wrong things, and failed to teach him the important things.

You know what else perpetuates the bigotry? That we know this much about the shooter, that we’ve been served up these little dollops of presumably worthy things about him — religion, cotton candy, guns, prayer, nerdy, innocent — and we know nothing about his victims, who are all faceless Asian women who worked at a spa (wink, wink), and whose lives aren’t summed up with a list of trite objects. Now they’ve been reduced to objects themselves, the murderer is the subject, the verb is “killed”. Maybe eventually they’ll send a junior reporter off to get a quick summary of their lives, but it won’t be a front page story.

I wonder if some editor is thinking now that it would be a good idea to send a young Asian woman reporter off to cover that story (and get traumatized all over again) that’ll get buried somewhere in the back of the paper, and looking over the newsroom, is dismayed to notice they haven’t hired anyone to fit that role.

They also need to find someone to rewrite the puff pieces they’ve done on the murderer, to point out that he was a hate-filled gun-waving homicidal Jesus freak from a morally bankrupt family, with no excuses.

Comments

  1. rorschach says

    That guy exudes strong incel and qanon vibes. But who knows. There is no doubt that crimes against Asians, not just in the US, have increased during the pandemic.
    But I’m watching CNN right now and his 8 all female victims split in Asians and Whites, so there might be something else at work other than anti-Asian sentiment. Maybe just another woman hater who couldn’t get a root and had easy access to guns.

  2. says

    No shit – exactly what it is and what needs to be said every time. A small part overall but reality has to be part of the solution if the US is or wants to change.

    They also need to find someone to rewrite the puff pieces they’ve done on the murderer, to point out that he was a hate-filled gun-waving homicidal Jesus freak from a morally bankrupt family, with no excuses.

  3. says

    To be fair, it isn’t possible for reporters to know anything about the victims yet. The police haven’t even released their identities. And it will probably take some digging to find out about them — there’s a good chance that some of them are undocumented sex workers. I would hope that some reporters will investigate and write respectfully about their lives, but they can’t be expected to do that today.

  4. says

    I posted on the Political Madness thread about the press briefing. The Atlanta police say it’s still too early to determine the motive, but Capt. Baker said (in an almost nonchalant tone) that Long confessed to the shootings and said he’s a sex addict, these places were where he fed it, and so he wanted to destroy them. When they caught him he was on his way to Florida to murder some more people at massage parlors. So it was a misogynistic crime, of which we’ve seen many, and could potentially be classified as a hate crime against women. It’s not clear whether he had explicit racist motives; at the very least, he saw these Asian women as disposable.

  5. mcfrank0 says

    Given the past history of mass shooters, I looked at this same description and came away with “Of course he did!”.

    On a surface level, it might appear to be a list of positive traits, but in the aggregate, it’s a damning list.

  6. says

    Would seem to be a case of severe warping by religious indoctrination. No way to psychoanalyze this guy, no doubt racism and misogyny are somewhere in the mix, but it seems that sexual guilt is the driving force, at least as police interpret his confession.

  7. Tethys says

    The local authorities had a press briefing this morning, and it does not look like the wanton mass murder was racially motivated. From police interviews, it is sex motivated. He was a frequent customer of his victims businesses.

    Another detail from the press conference is that his family had called the police while he was on his killing spree to identify him, and then given them his phone info. This was used to track and eventually apprehend him.

    Religion+misogyny gets the credit for this tragedy.

  8. rorschach says

    Just read a tweet from Jessica Valenti who pointed out that the fetishization of Asian women is racist, and I can’t really fault her argument. But remember he seems to have shot 2 white women too. Socially maladjusted religious zealot with easy access to guns is still my frontrunner theory.

  9. donfelipe says

    “..didn’t seem violent from what I remember. He was a hunter..”
    “Pizza, guns…”

    This is just some mind bending weirdness. How was he not a violent person if he killed animals for fun? The second word he uses to describe himself is “guns”, and the attached photo on that story shows him wearing a hat advertising weapons. I’m pretty sure that someone who is obsessed with weapons and killing is by definition violent.

  10. says

    cervantes @ #3:

    No way to psychoanalyze this guy, no doubt racism and misogyny are somewhere in the mix, but it seems that sexual guilt is the driving force, at least as police interpret his confession.

    There are a number of different responses to sexual guilt. Blaming women for your desires and shooting up places where they work is a misogynistic response. And this sort of blaming and the violence it breeds are part and parcel of patriarchal religions.

  11. rorschach says

    “Blaming women for your desires and shooting up places where they work is a misogynistic response”

    To sum things up.

  12. microraptor says

    Just because the guy shot some women who weren’t Asian doesn’t mean this wasn’t a racially motivated crime. They could have been trying to stop him or shield other victims. Or he could have just decided in the heat of the moment that hey, shooting women is fun, let’s shoot some more while we’re at it.

    But I think that the one thing we can be sure of is that we’ll hear a lot about mental illness and how he’s really such a great person aside from this one incident and all the other things that get trotted out to excuse an ideological right-wing white guy any time they murder a bunch of people.

  13. rorschach says

    “Just because the guy shot some women who weren’t Asian doesn’t mean this wasn’t a racially motivated crime.”

    Sure, that’s possible, like I just quoted, targeting women of a certain appearance with sexual desire can be racist by itself. But the reason we are here talking about it is hopefully to figure out how to reduce these kinds of incidents in the future. So it’s important to understand how we got here. How did this guy get radicalised? We should try and understand that, because presumably we still want to improve society and not resign to doomscrolling for another 30 years. Religion is an easy one, but I doubt it explains every violent incel.

  14. PaulBC says

    I honestly thought we were through with this and that the idiotic attempts to blame our public health failure on another nation would fall flat. Silly me.

    My wife is from mainland China and I have studied and worked with many people from China and other parts of Asia for most of my education and career. I think what gets me more than the murder and hate crimes, though that’s horrifying, is the re-emergence of Asian essentialism among some of my friends, namely the idea that there is some magic reason that Asians are just better at responding to pandemics because they are more collectivist (or whatever)… and it all goes back to Confucius… and somebody’s been taking Years of Rice and Salt a tad too seriously.

    That strikes me as pure BS for a couple of reasons. First, I won’t deny that you can make rough generalizations along cultural lines. Many Americans, particularly since Reagan, have taken the “rugged individualist” thing to absurd conclusions and are basically unfit to live in a civilized society. But that’s not true of Europe, and it wasn’t even true of the US for a long time after WWII.

    Likewise, there is no reason to think that “Asian” culture is fixed in time. China in particular went through some recent upheavals that have left specific scars. The cultural revolution still has an impact on Chinese people my age (I just have to ask my wife). June 4, 1989 looms large as well. If I can generalize a little and identify anything that might have given China an advantage recently, it’s as simple as pragmatism, meshing with Deng Xiaoping’s motto that the color of the cat doesn’t matter but whether it can catch the mouse (in reference to ideologies, not skin color). Basically, China is a nation filled with many capable people who just want the same stuff that we have and are increasingly good at providing it (and actually make a lot of our “stuff” at this point). They also managed to execute on health policy where we failed and a lot of European countries did as well, but I don’t think this was out of Confucian obligation but simply that they had faced this problem recently with SARS and also did not have to prove something about Freedom™ and could instead address the problem at hand.

    To be clear, Xi Jinping appalls me for many reasons (treatment of Uighurs is just the tip of the iceberg) but I am really sick of hearing essentialist views on China. I often wonder if people who say this even have close acquaintances from China. It’s not a monolith and is it not fixed in time.

  15. Bruce says

    The obvious question is: “Where are the fathers? …” which should mean: Where are the fathers of the Southern Baptist preachers who raise murderous congregations? These abandoned congregations should become wards of the state, where we could teach them actual morality, instead of whatever Praise-Jesus-the-Murderer morality those Baptists seem to have picked up in the mean streets and mean pews of America.

  16. raven says

    Troll

    Expect a liberal cry for more policing. In direct contrast with BLM protests.

    Expect a troll to show up and make a stupid comment that has nothing to do with the crimes or the criminal.

    Expect the fundie xians to blame this on, in no particular order, satan, demons, the liberals, Democrats, women, Asians, and Obama. Being a fundie means never, ever taking personal responsibility for your actions.

  17. kathleenzielinski says

    If he’s so religious, how did he miss important Biblical passages like “No murderer has eternal life” and “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man’s hand shall his blood be shed, for in the image of God created he man.”

  18. PaulBC says

    He was a hunter

    Desensitization to violence usually starts with animals. I grew up around deer hunters, though my family wouldn’t have had a gun near the house. Yes, they are “normal” people, as likely to be friendly and polite as anyone else. Most behave lawfully and ethically (well, modulo what your ethics say about killing animals).

    But if you want to ask how some nice, quiet kid could ever be capable of killing people, the fact that they practiced on animals probably goes a long way.

  19. rorschach says

    “If he’s so religious, how did he miss important Biblical passages like”

    Are you new here? I don’t want to be snarky, but religious texts are just convenient excuses to commit crimes and uphold inequalities these days. This whole “he is not a true Christian/Muslim/Hindu/whatever argument annoys me to no end.

  20. PaulBC says

    kathleenzielinski@19 One could likewise ask how you can ignore important verses like

    “Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.”

    And that’s not exactly random. It’s from Psalm 137 with the famous admonition “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth” Beautiful, and I say that without irony, but the Bible is one of the worst places to go for recommendations of non-violent resolution.

  21. kathleenzielinski says

    rorschach and PaulBC: I didn’t say that I believe those religious texts. I said that since he claims to, I’d like to know how he reconciles what he did with what he claims to be the foundation of his belief system. And I think the presence of Psalm 137 juxtaposed with the two passages I cited shows the Bible is a muddled mess of contradictions, nevertheless, if you claim to believe it, you have to show how your life comports with its teachings.

  22. PaulBC says

    drew@15

    Expect a liberal cry for more policing. In direct contrast with BLM protests.

    BLM is not a cry for less policing, just an end to extrajudicial executions.

    To be honest, I’m not a fan of “Defund the police” as a slogan*, though I am favor of the intended policy changes. Black people do not want crime in their neighborhoods either and are often (or so I have read) frustrated by the lack of any serious law enforcement effort to make them safer. Police need to do their job, and that is equal justice under the law, not protecting white people from others who scare them just by walking through their neighborhood. That is what must be defunded.

    *Black Lives Matter is near perfect though, says what it means clearly, and draws out the racists who really think Black people do not matter as much as white people.

  23. PaulBC says

    kathleenzielinski@23 My point is just that it’s a losing proposition to claim that someone would not do something if they were true to their religion. Honestly, who knows what he believes or why? I don’t care. From the standpoint of society, the only important issue is how to protect ourselves from people like that.

  24. says

    kathleenzielinski @ #23:

    if you claim to believe [the Bible], you have to show how your life comports with its teachings

    the Bible is a muddled mess of contradictions

  25. says

    I have a college friend who was attacked and hospitalized, in Berkeley of all places. But I always thought, it must be unusual for this to happen here, it’s probably more common in other states where Asian Americans are a rare sight and Trumpism more prevalent. It seems I was wrong. The report says California has more of these hate crimes than any other state.

  26. Rob Grigjanis says

    PaulBC @22: That is a beautiful poem about human misery, which unsurprisingly resonates for people whose ancestors were forcibly displaced.

    Any book about (or claiming to be about ) the long struggles and suffering of a group of humans which didn’t contain violent imagery would be bullshit even without the references to a deity.

    That some people use religious texts (or cherry-picked bits of them) as excuses for oppression or mayhem is no surprise. That’s what people do. If it’s not a religious text, it’s political ideology, or nationalism, or even misuse of science. Or just being a hateful shit.

  27. kathleenzielinski says

    PaulBC, No. 26, how are we going to protect ourselves from people like that? Pull up a chair.

    The central problem is that we have lots and lots of people being taught from early childhood, before they are old enough to develop critical thinking skills, that people who aren’t like them are bad people, or at least inferior people. And that males are superior to females; I actually had someone tell me in blog comments a month or so ago that he wouldn’t talk to me because there was no point to discussing policy with women. Some people manage to overcome such nonsense once they begin to think for themselves — I did — but a lot of people simply never do. And it’s self perpetuating. Someone is a racist because their parents taught them to be racist, and they teach their children to be racist, and the cycle continues.

    And short of denying custody to bigoted parents and putting large numbers of people in re-education camps — which I do not favor — that trend is going to continue into the foreseeable future. The draconian and totalitarian measures that would be required to stamp it out are simply not possible in a free society. Europe has had hate speech laws for years now, and I don’t see that it has proportionately that many fewer bigots than the US with its First Amendment.

    I disagree with Pinker. The world is not getting better. If anything, we learned from the Trump administration just how many vile racists there still are out there; pre-Trump they existed but weren’t as open about it until he came along and empowered them.

    And it’s predictable that when you’ve got that many bigots, along with easy availability of guns, every now and then one of them is going to pick up a gun and cause some carnage.

    So what’s to be done about it? Probably nothing. Sorry.

  28. says

    PaulBC@16 anyone who has paid much attention to Asian responses to the pandemic can see there’s no single Asian response. Taiwan and South Korea have done just about as good as could be expected. Japan, not so much.

  29. PaulBC says

    Rob Grigjanis@30 No argument there, and it is a favorite of mine, though the last line makes it tricky to quote fully.

  30. says

    PaulBC @25

    “BLM is not a cry for less policing, just an end to extrajudicial executions.”

    That’s not true. It’s also a call for less policing (but not no policing except in some corners) and more equitable policing. Despite all studies that show white people commit as much crime as Black and Latinx people, the focus on non-white people means more white people get away with it (and even if caught, white people get more lenient sentencing).

    “Police need to do their job, and that is equal justice under the law, not protecting white people from others who scare them just by walking through their neighborhood. That is what must be defunded.”

    They also don’t need to be militarized and a good chunk of their budgets should be stripped away and put into social agencies that would do more good so that people who are having a mental health crisis aren’t shot by people who aren’t trained to deal with that. Work on the root causes of crime, don’t just throw money in reaction to it.

  31. christoph says

    @ rorshach, # 9:
    “Just read a tweet from Jessica Valenti who pointed out that the fetishization of Asian women is racist, and I can’t really fault her argument.”
    Fetishes aren’t racist, misogynistic, etc. by themselves. The most likely reason/cause for them is imprinting during a sexually impressionable period. Racism and misogyny can sometimes be corrected, fetishes (like sexual preference and sexual identity) are there for life.

  32. PaulBC says

    Tabby Lavalamp@35 I agree with all your points. It is just very easy to twist this level of nuance into a demand for lawlessness (see Troll@15), which is why I’m more inclined just to say the point isn’t to reduce the number of police (personally, I would say, it is probably not the number but the distribution, roles, mission, and tactics that need to change). (But maybe reducing the number is the point, and maybe it’s a good goal. It is just a tough sell if it is twisted into “more crime.”)

    The War on Drugs, the militarization of the police, and the prison-industrial complex all need to end. But at a more abstract level, there is a polarized view of what the police are there for anyway. There’s nothing surprising to the idea that they are there to protect the privileged from the rabble (whether it’s defined by race or by class). That in fact is the traditional role of police. In a democratic society, we still need some police (though I agree their effort could be better directed). They are there to enforce the law equally. We are far from achieving the latter goal, and this is exacerbated by large numbers of people (most of the thin-blue-line crowd) who have fully internalized the former view of policing and fail to see it any other way.

    (I wish I had an answer too, because I am not sure we are going to get the kind of changes BLM is calling for.)

  33. brightmoon says

    I live near a Chinatown in NYC. I was waiting for this type of racist crap to happen as soon as tRump started on the Mexicans in 2016. I hate to say I was correct that it was going to trickle down into other people of color and non Christians.
    The religious right in this country have always been a burden for women whether the women are individuals or a group. Hyper-religious, gun nut and a misogynist, figures!

  34. tedw says

    I have lived most of my 57 years in Georgia, and although I don’t spend a lot of time in Atlanta, it is pretty common knowledge that it has a thriving sex industry. (Motley Crüe name checked one of the strip clubs there in the song Girls, Girls, Girls, for example) I mention this because the media spin on this act of domestic terror seems to already be trending towards it being a crime motivated by sex rather than racism. There are any number of strip clubs catering to various demographics, “adult book/novelty/video/toy stores” (sex toys are illegal here and can only be sold through various subterfuges), swingers clubs, and who knows what else that may be deeper underground. But with this smorgasbord of options for sex available, he chose to target only one segment; Asian massage parlors. If anyone has a non-racist explanation for that I would be interested in hearing it.

    I would also be interested in hearing about how his religious upbringing contributed to his warped attitude towards sex, but I won’t be holding my breath.

  35. tedw says

    “I would also be interested in hearing about how his religious upbringing contributed to his warped attitude towards sex, but I won’t be holding my breath.”

    That was referring to the mainstream media, not here😁

  36. Alverant says

    #15
    Strawman. There should be a call for more gun control because the terrorist got a gun shortly before he committed his crimes. More policing wouldn’t have stopped it. There should be less policing, especially the kind Captain Jay Baker of the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office did when he sympathized with the terrorist by saying “he had a really bad day”. Of course, they say there’s no evidence this is a hate crime despite how he targeted Asian spas and women.

    Ajua Duker
    @AjuaDuker
    This kind of humanizing language isn’t even typically afforded to non-white VICTIMS of crime, let alone suspects.

  37. AstrySol says

    @41 Exactly. The original twitter can be seen here.

    I was appalled by this and I thought this was another important reason why this kept happening.

  38. raven says

    Yahoo news
    Atlanta mayor calls police depiction of motive in spa killings ‘victim blaming’
    Caitlin Dickson and Christopher Wilson
    Wed, March 17, 2021, 1:54 PM·3 min read

    Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms took issue with the way authorities described the possible motive of the suspect in the Tuesday evening killings of eight people at three spa locations.

    Even the media is calling out the Georgia police for their statements about the murders of 8 women.

    I was expecting “victim blaming” to show up and sooner rather than later.

  39. klatu says

    That article, though:
    “If only those women hadn’t died. This tragic loss of reputation could have been avoided entirely! Now, let’s pray for the gun and its family.”

  40. Sonja says

    I saw a documentary about this kid’s inability to reconcile his own sexuality and his mother’s conservative values. It was called “Psycho.”

  41. InitHello says

    @rorschach #1:

    8 all female victims split in Asians and Whites, so there might be something else at work other than anti-Asian sentiment. Maybe just another woman hater who couldn’t get a root and had easy access to guns.

    Six were Asian, two were not. Try again, you’re sounding really racist right now.

  42. rorschach says

    “Six were Asian, two were not. Try again, you’re sounding really racist right now.”

    LOL, get a life mate.

  43. Kagehi says

    @15 Someone already marked you as a troll, but going to comment anyway.

    Its certainly “possible” that some “Democrat” will call for more policing, but its well f-ing established at this point that Democrat does not automatically (or even commonly) equal liberal, and only seem to be such in the same sense that cereal with arsenic mixed into it is less of a poison than sarin gas inside a locked and sealed room. There is as much a tendency of people to cast “less evil” as “liberal”, while ignoring that its still evil as there is for some politicians to lament that thinner chains of oppression are “less of a burden, so stop whining about them”. Its the same BS idea – that somehow the more horrible the truly bad people get, the further we should naturally move the line between, “This is still bad.”, and, “Its all good.” Nope – the f-ing line needs to stay where it bloody was to begin with. And no one who actually believes in liberal ideals would call for more cops to “fix” a problem like this. Social workers, psychiatric help, an end to bullshit laws that attack sex work, and a dozen other things, but not, “Lets replace an illegal serial killer with legal ones, who we won’t even jail, if they kill the ‘wrong’ people.”

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