Updated: Aug 1, 2021
The murder of eight people, including six Asian women in three Atlanta-area spas, was a vicious, treacherous act that could well have been part of the disgusting hatred against Asian-Americans spawned by Donald Trump's constant blaming of China for sending the coronavirus to the U.S.
The "China Virus", he constantly called it as he attempted to shift blame for the hundreds of thousands of people who died on his watch in the U.S.
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OK, that hasn't been proven yet as the suspect, Robert Aaron Long, 21, reportedly has told investigators the killings were not racially motivated, that they were prompted by his desire to rid himself of the source of his sex addiction.
Could the fact that hate-motivated murder carries stiff penalties, and in some cases, the death penalty have anything to do with that excuse? Apparently, federal investigators are looking into that.
According to The Washington Post, Long told investigators about his “sexual addiction,” and that the spas were “a temptation for him that he wanted to eliminate.” He apparently planned to go to Florida and shoot up similar establishments there.
Asian American Violence Increases
The tragic incident occurred as violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders has been increasing during the course of the pandemic, with thousands of cases reported and even health-care workers caring for Covid 19 victims being threatened. It's been a year of xenophobic rhetoric and racist attacks amid the pandemic.
As TIME reported, "Many attribute the 2020 uptick to the xenophobic rhetoric of Biden’s predecessor; former President Trump repeatedly referred to COVID-19 as “the China virus,” blaming the country for the pandemic. In doing so, Trump followed in a long American history of using diseases to justify anti-Asian xenophobia, one that dates back to the 19th and 20th centuries and has helped to shape perception of Asian Americans as “perpetual foreigners.”
The situation has grown so concerning that Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) have introduced legislation calling for a Justice Department review of potential hate crimes related to the pandemic.
“Before this pandemic started, I urged everyone — including elected officials — to not blame Asian Americans for the virus,” Meng said in a news release. “My words were not heeded. The former president and his Congressional Republican enablers trafficked racist, bigoted terms to describe covid-19. In doing so, their language stoked people’s fears and created an atmosphere of intolerance and violence, which persists even today.”
Whether the Georgia spa killings actually were spawned by hatred against Asians or, as Long apparently said, were because he wanted to eliminate the sources of sexual temptation (I can think of a better solution), the fact remains that Trump's constant blaming of China for Covid 19, as well as for meddling in his election defeat, has prompted much of this hatred and violence.
And now, some of his brilliant supporters are spreading made-up rumors on social media that Long is a registered Democrat and member of Antifa. Snopes looked into that today and said those claims are unproven.
"As of this writing, Long’s political party affiliation, if he had one, was unknown. We also note no evidence exists that political-party preference had any role in the string of deadly shootings," Snopes wrote, adding, "There is also no evidence that Long had any affiliation with antifa, which is a loose collective of activists known to show up at protests in various cities but who have no umbrella organizational structure."
China's Election Meddling?
Meanwhile, a report released yesterday by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said it was Russia, not China, that was determined to interfere with the 2020 election and that Russia's initiatives were specifically sanctioned by Trump's old pal, Vladimir Putin.
The document makes clear that even while Trump has challenged the legitimacy of the election, intelligence officials believe Russia tried to influence people close to Trump hoping to help him win.
According to the Associated Press, the report says China did not interfere on either side and “considered but did not deploy” influence operations intended to affect the outcome. U.S. officials said Beijing prioritized a stable relationship with the U.S. and did not consider either election outcome as advantageous enough for it to risk the consequences that would result if it got caught with interfering.
The report said Russia sought to undermine Biden’s candidacy because it viewed his presidency as opposed to the Kremlin’s interests. The report said Putin authorized influence operations aimed at denigrating Biden, boosting Trump, undermining confidence in the election and exacerbating social divisions in the U.S., the AP reported.
What does that have to do with the tragic killings in Georgia and the growing actions of hatred against Asian Americans?
Trump's constant attacks against China, experts say, are largely responsible for stirring up that hatred, just as his support for White extremists have encouraged the violent actions of those individuals against people of color.
We can be thankful that Putin's efforts did not succeed and that Donald Trump has been relegated to the trash heap of history, where he rightfully belongs. There is no telling what this country would have become under another four years of a Trump presidency.
Meanwhile, if you would like to learn more, check out this guide To The History of Pandemics from MyBioSource.com.