Thursday Reads: A Bad Day For Him?

Young Lady Reading the Newspaper at Home in the Evening

Young Lady Reading the Newspaper at Home in the Evening, by Yann Rebecq

Good Morning!!

There’s a police captain in Atlanta named Jay Baker who needs to fired immediately. Since when do we take the word of mass murders on their motives?

So this pathetic loser was having a bad day? What about the 8 women he killed and their surviving family members? Or don’t they count because they aren’t white males?

You probably won’t be surprised to learn that Captain Baker appears to be a racist. The Daily Beast: Georgia Sheriff Spokesman Posted Racist COVID Shirts on Facebook.

A Cherokee County, Georgia, Sheriff’s Office spokesperson came under fire Wednesday afternoon for pinning the deadly Tuesday shooting rampage that left eight dead—including six Asian women—on a 21-year-old white man’s “really bad day.”

“Yesterday was a really bad day for him and this is what he did,” Jay Baker said during the joint news conference with the Atlanta Police Department about 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long.

But it seems the same spokesperson shared racist content online, including pointing the finger at China for the ongoing coronavirus pandemic—the same vitriol advocates say has fueled a horrific surge in violence against Asian Americans.

In a Facebook page associated with Capt. Jay Baker of the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office, several photos show the law enforcer was promoting T-shirts with the slogan “COVID-19 imported virus from CHY-NA.”

“Place your order while they last,” Baker wrote with a smiley face on a March 30 photo that included the racist T-shirts.

“Love my shirt,” Baker wrote in another post in April 2020. “Get yours while they last.’”

The shirts appear to be printed by Deadline Appeal, owned by a former deputy sheriff from Cherokee County, and sold for $22. The store, which promotes fully customizable gear, also appears to print shirts for the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office Honor Guard, a “ceremonial unit, all volunteers, who represent not only the Sheriff’s Office but also the county when participating in a variety of events,” according to a March 10 Instagram post.

The Washington Post Editorial Board: Opinion: The Atlanta shootings cannot be dismissed as someone having a ‘bad day.’

HOURS AFTER a 21-year-old White man purchased a gun on Tuesday, authorities said, he went on a shooting spree in the Atlanta area that killed eight people, most of them women of Asian descent. The question that investigators are trying to answer is why. Was it, as many members of the Asian American community believe, racial bigotry? Crimes of opportunity? Or, as the alleged shooter is reported to have told police, the result of a supposed sex addiction that led him to target spas? No matter the answer, the events in Georgia stand as yet another terrible reminder of the epidemic of gun violence in this country that for far too long has gone neglected.

Xue Jie, Chinese artist

By Xue Jie, Chinese artist

Robert Aaron Long, arrested following a brief search, is accused of opening fire at three spas in the Atlanta area, killing eight people and wounding a ninth. Six of the people killed were Asian, and two were White. All but one were women. Identified so far: Delaina Ashley Yaun, 33; Xiaojie Yan, 49; Daoyou Feng, 44 and Paul Andre Michels, 54. That police were able to make a quick arrest is a credit to the collaboration of different police agencies, critical cooperation from the suspect’s family and the reach of social media. According to authorities, the suspect was headed to Florida and intent on more violence.

The shootings occurred as there has been an alarming rise in discrimination, harassment and attacks of Asians. Stop AAPI Hate, a group that has collected first-hand accounts of discrimination and xenophobia against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, this week reported nearly 3,800 hate-related incidents from March 2020 through February 2021. It connects the attacks to racist rhetoric, including from former president Donald Trump, that suggests Chinese people are to blame for the pandemic….

When arrested, Mr. Long had a 9mm gun that authorities said was purchased earlier in the day. Details of the purchase — and whether it was legal — were not disclosed. Capt. Jay Baker of the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office said Mr. Long took responsibility for the shootings and characterized the spas as a “temptation for him that he wanted to eliminate.” He added, “Yesterday was a really bad day for him, and this is what he did.”

Really? Have we become so nonchalant about gun violence that we rack up the murder of eight people to someone having a “bad day?” Just as the coronavirus represents a public health emergency requiring scientific solutions and government action, so gun violence is a public health crisis that demands attention and action to put in place common-sense safety laws.

Bess Levin at Vanity Fair: Why Are We Taking Robert Aaron Long’s Word For It That The Georgia Killings Weren’t About Race?

When Georgia law enforcement briefed the public on Wednesday morning about the 21-year-old white man who shot and killed eight people—six of them Asian women—at Atlanta-area massage parlors Tuesday night, it wasn’t helpful.

Officials made a puzzling series of claims of fact, despite being cartoonishly cautious about other aspects of the case. Officials claimed that 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long had a “sex addiction” but admitted they didn’t know whether sex work occurred at the places where Long killed people. Who told them that Long had a sex addiction? Was it Long himself?

They weren’t sure whether Long was motivated by the racial identity or gender of his victims, and thus said they couldn’t say with certainty that a hate crime had been committed, but then again, they said with certainty that before he’d committed the crimes the shooter had “a really bad day.” Who told them that Long had a really bad day? Did they fact-check that one, or did they once again simply repeat the words of a suspected mass killer into a microphone? (I think I speak for a lot of people when I say: I don’t give a flying-saucer fuck about what kind of day a mass shooter was having before opening fire.)

In her book Down Girl, philosopher Kate Mann describes the phenomenon of “himpathy,” which she defines as “the inappropriate and disproportionate sympathy powerful men often enjoy in cases of sexual assault, intimate-partner violence, homicide, and other misogynistic behavior.” The phenomenon is particularly on display when a male public figure is accused of sexual misconduct and his defenders comment on how the man’s life has been “ruined,” like when Lindsey Graham lost his marbles during the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings.

Mai Trung Thu, Vietnamese artist

By Mai Trung Thu, Vietnamese artist

When men specifically target women in their violent crimes, some in positions of power fall all over themselves to make the case that those crimes were somehow in women’s power to stop, that men’s out-of-control unmet entitlement functions like a semitruck that lost the use of its brakes while heading down a steep grade, and that those who get hit should have moved out of the way.

Violent acts committed by men who have a problem with women and sex—they’re not getting enough; they feel bad about getting too much; the women who they believe should be giving them sex are instead choosing to have sex with other men—are similarly excused as something we should understand on an emotional level. If only women had been sluttier/less slutty when it came to the sad men, perhaps the men wouldn’t have been pushed to do what they did….

The murder of six Asian women and a white man and white woman in Atlanta didn’t only call to mind over-empathization with maleness; Long’s treatment by law enforcement also draws attention to the way authorities treat whiteness.

Harmeet Kaur at CNN: Fetishized, sexualized and marginalized, Asian women are uniquely vulnerable to violence.

Of the eight people who were killed when a White man attacked three metro Atlanta spas, six were Asian women.

Investigators said it was too early to say whether the crime was racially motivated, and instead pointed to the suspect’s claim of a potential sex addiction.

But experts and activists argue it’s no coincidence that six of the eight victims were Asian women. And the suspect’s remarks, they say, are rooted in a history of misogyny and stereotypes that are all too familiar for Asian and Asian American women.

They’re fetishized and hypersexualized. They’re seen as docile and submissive. On top of that, they’re often working in the service sector and are subject to the same racism that affects Asian Americans more broadly.

The way their race intersects with their gender makes Asian and Asian American women uniquely vulnerable to violence, said Sung Yeon Choimorrow, executive director of the non-profit advocacy group National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum….

Di Li Feng

Painting by Di Li Feng

The perceptions of Asian and Asian American women as submissive, hypersexual and exotic can be traced back centuries.

Rachel Kuo, a scholar on race and co-leader of Asian American Feminist Collective, points to legal and political measures throughout the nation’s history that have shaped these harmful ideas.

One of the earliest examples comes from the Page Act of 1875.

That law, coming a few years before the Chinese Exclusion Act, was enacted seemingly to restrict prostitution and forced labor. In reality, it was used systematically to prevent Chinese women from immigrating to the US, under the pretense that they were prostitutes.

Read more details at CNN.

A few more stories on this topic:

Rex Huppke at The Chicago Tribune: Column: Atlanta shooting suspect’s ‘bad day’ and the whitewashing of white crime.

CNN: Unsettling questions surround the motive behind three Atlanta-area spa shootings as Asians in the US face increased hate.

The Washington Post: Asian Americans see shooting as a culmination of a year of racism.

The Atlantic: Why This Wave of Anti-Asian Racism Feels Different. The author Cathy Park Hong sees the recent upsurge in violence as a turning point for Asian Americans.

As always this is an open thread. What’s on your mind today?

32 Comments on “Thursday Reads: A Bad Day For Him?”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    A 76-year-old woman in San Francisco fought back after being attacked:

    CBS5 SF: Update: Elderly Asian Woman Talks About Terrifying Daylight Assault; Fighting Off Her Attacker.

    An elderly woman being attacked on Market St. in San Francisco Wednesday – the latest victim in a wave of attacks on Asians in the Bay Area – spoke to KPIX 5 about turning the tables on her assailant, leaving him with injuries that required a trip to the hospital.

    From her senior retirement home in San Francisco, Xiao Zhen Xie candidly talked about the attack and her injuries, with her daughter Dong-Mei Li helping to translate.

    “Very traumatized, very scared and this eye is still bleeding,” Li told KPIX 5. “The right eye still cannot see anything and still bleeding and we have something to absorb the bleeding.”

    Surrounded by her family, the 76-year-old who has resided in San Francisco for 26 years said she was quite shaken up and that the attack was completely unprovoked. Her immediate instinct was to fight back.

    Xiao Zhen Xie says she was just waiting at the traffic light and then the suspect punched her by her left eye.

    Immediately, her instincts kicked in to defend herself. While she suffered injuries and required medical attention, it was her attacker that ended up on the stretcher. Li says, “She found the stick around the area and fought back.”

  2. RonStill4Hills says:

    Nothing but sympathy for this murdering bastard. Wake up America, it is Doube-O-Redneck, conservative White males have a license to kill. Their right to kill, supercedes any right that non white males have. They will investigate and maybe even convict after a women or minority is killed by a white dude, but stop him? You must be joking. He’s a goddamn White American! Even god can’t fuck with the second Amendment. Ron Johnson told it folks. White conservatives can do whatever they want and so-called justice will try to co-sign it.

    We still have some levers of power to push back against this shit but we better hurry up. At the moment I do t think we are winning.

  3. dakinikat says:

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  5. dakinikat says:

    As a mother of two daughters of Japanese Descent and two granddaughters on the way with a father who is all of Indian descendent this entire thing infuriates me … American movies and culture has hypersexualized these women forever. It’s sick sick sick!

  6. dakinikat says:

  7. quixote says:

    The guy targets women, prostitutes, and now, after days, commentators (female ones) are starting to notice that misogyny might be a bit of an issue here too. Jeeeezus.

    Obviously race is an issue. He didn’t target Asians by accident. But, HELLO?, men targeting women is a giant factor that gets buried down there with the poor widdle murderer having a bad day.

    I know I keep repeating myself on this, but until *all* the flavors of bigotry are recognized for their contributions to the damage they cause, they’ll keep on causing damage.

    • dakinikat says:

      There’s intersectionality to all of this …

      • dakinikat says:

      • quixote says:

        Exactly. I’m whingeing about how the female aspect of the intersection seems to be invisible, even when it’s the biggest aspect. I think over a day had gone by before I even realized any of the victims were women. Then it turns out that the murderer himself is broadcasting his misogyny by saying he needed to get rid of slutty temptresses, especially Asian one.

        • quixote says:

          This is the sort of thing I mean, to give another example. Headline in The Guardian: Activists demand sexual violence against Argentina’s indigenous people be classified a hate crime.

          Hello? Sexual violence against *anyone* is a hate crime. It’s called “sexual violence” because the prime target is the victim’s sex.

          When other groups women belong to are also a factor, whether they’re Bosnians or Tutsis or Argentinian Indians, then race is also a factor.

          (Nasty wrinkle in the latter case is that the motivation of the violators often isn’t even to harm the women. It’s to demoralize the men by damaging “their” women. The women don’t exist at all except as furniture to be broken. Not focusing the misogyny aids and abets that kind of crime.)

        • dakinikat says:

          I think that narrative is stronger right now.

    • NW Luna says:

      Sadly, femicide and other violence against women is only rarely acknowledged.

      • Enheduanna says:

        This was my first reaction and sadly I did not recognize the intersectionality of it all. I was upset the fact the victims were women wasn’t seen as a hate crime. The “sex addiction” defense is so very spurious. I’m ashamed I sort of believed at least the shooter believed it. I don’t think for a minute that racist sheriff believed it.

        I hope this wakes people up as it has me.

        • NW Luna says:

          The “intersectionality” is merely knowing that the victims were Asian as well as women. To me what stands out is the violence against women. Of course there were other factors with this sick white guy who hates so many people.

          Intersectional often gets overused IMO, especially in demands that feminism be intersectional. Ahem. Feminism centers women and women’s issues. It focuses on how girls and women are oppressed because of their female sex. It dilutes feminism if it’s supposed to take on the problems of racism, classism, etc. Of course these other issues are problems, but somehow we don’t hear that people working against racism have the responsibility to address intersectional discrimination.

        • NW Luna says:

          My guess is that these men are so twisted that they probably do believe it or at any rate think they should be excused for it. “The woman tempted me.” “She didn’t have her hijab on.” “What was she doing walking by herself home from work.” They’ll use anything as a reason why they didn’t control themselves.

  8. dakinikat says:

    Good goddesses! It’s shoot out at the OK Corral!

  9. dakinikat says:

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  11. RonStill4Hills says:

    I watched a little of the hearing about AAPI hate.

    It was amazing watching the Republicans sit there and try to figure out, how to push back, how to trip up, how to make a public make a show of attacking anti-racism for the benefit of a racist constituency without be completely exposed as a racist.

    It is a tight rope walk that most eventually fail and are exposed.

    They are trying to profit politically from racism directed at Asian people including the murders.

    They are leveraging the rise in hate crimes and trying to stoke it further.

    The use of lynching rhetoric is part of it.

    “I would have been afraid if it was BLM” is part of it.

    They are trying their best to make sure the crowd from Jan 6 doesn’t lose interest and walk away.

    • dakinikat says:

      I could tell you personal, lived stories about my exhusband–whose mother was Japanese–and me. His first job When we graduated from university and moved back to Omaha was at the Omaha Branch of the KCMO Fed. The exec secretary to the Branch President used to call him her “little yellow friend” constamtly. This was like 1978. I’ve got others too. I fear for my oldest who definitely has the Japanese look and now has an Indian American Husband so her last name is typical of people from Bengal. The youngest takes more after my Dad and actually has blonde hair. But my neice definitely has that look and she married and Iranian. I figured it’s gotten better–especially on the West Coast–but so many of these stories still come from San Francisco. The West Coast mines and the rail road building there brought many Chinese to the country and the hate there has deep deep historical roots.

      • RonStill4Hills says:

        You family is very diverse. That is cool.
        Somehow our progress and regression seem to go hand in hand.
        But I believe that is because the forces of evil wedded to the political power granted through the exploitation racism, misogyny, religious persecution, and income inequality make it so. They never stop working on ways to keep the soul cancer alive.

        • dakinikat says:

          And one of the ways they do that is to try to break us all up into those little wedges so we want gang up on them. But, I think the all gang up on them days may just be here …