“the 18-year-old Lee described what happened to her and her friends (who are all women of Asian descent) just a week before the interview took place. While they were waiting for an Uber during a night out, a car pulled up to them and started yelling Asian slurs out the window. Lee said she got pepper sprayed on the arm as the car sped away.”
“Some recent evidence has suggested that the national period of declining crime—which began in the mid-1990s, as rate of violence fell dramatically in the U.S.—may be over: The most recent Uniform Crime Report (UCR), an important though incomplete snapshot of homicides nationwide, found that homicide had increased by 30 percent from 2019 to 2020.
But just-released data from the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) paints a much less depressing picture. According to the 2020 NCVS report, the violent crime rate actually declined last year, if homicides are excluded. Moreover, the popular narrative that former President Donald Trump’s anti-China rhetoric caused some spike in hate crimes against Asian-Americans appears to be wrong. For Asian-American victims, both the violent crime rate and simple assault rate declined from 2019 to 2020.
It’s important to interpret these findings cautiously. The NCVS does not count homicides; the data comes from telephone interviews with random Americans. It’s thus a scientific survey, rather than a tally of actual crimes.
The UCR, on the other hand, consists of crimes reported to the FBI by law enforcement agencies. Police departments are not required to report any information at all, which means that the UCR is in some ways more accurate—these are verified reported crimes—but also more statistically unreliable. Year-to-year fluctuations in the data might represent different reporting procedures rather than any actual increase in crime; the overall number of crimes reported to the FBI is obviously just a small snapshot.
The public should take the findings from both reports with a grain of salt. It could be the case, obviously, that murders in cities increased while other categories of crime decreased elsewhere; it’s also possible that certain minority communities suffered increased crime in a manner that isn’t captured by the data. But with so much bad news about rising violence, the NCVS data suggests that things might not be as bad as we think.”
“The Atlanta shooter—Robert Aaron Long—told police he struggled with sex addiction. He was a devout Christian who felt guilty about visiting sex workers at Asian spas, friends said. Were Long’s hateful acts really about race? Or were they more about misogyny—a man lashing out at women for inspiring lust in him? How significant is the fact that the victims were largely Asian women? Was his true bias against sex workers?
In one sense, none of this makes a difference. Eight lives were senselessly lost. Long’s acts were morally heinous whether driven by anti-Asian racism, general misogyny, resentment of sex workers, or total randomness. And hate crime or not, murder is a serious criminal offense, punishable in Georgia by life in prison, with the possibility of life without parole or even execution.
Yet if Long was motivated by anti-Asian or anti-female bias, this would be considered, under Georgia and federal law, a hate crime. If he was motivated by hatred of sex workers, it would not. This ambiguity perfectly encapsulates the tangled logic behind U.S. hate crime laws.”
“Hate crime statutes generally do one specific thing: enhance criminal punishments for actions that are already against the law. They say that for whatever the underlying offense is—vandalism, harassment, theft, assault, murder—the sentence will be harsher if the offense was committed out of identity-based bias or prejudice instead of, say, pure greed or lust or non-specific anger.”
“Hate crime statutes may make people feel like they’re doing something about a serious problem. But judged by their results, they’re likely to be harmless but ineffective at very best. At a 2018 U.S. Commission on Civil Rights briefing on hate crimes, none of the panelists could point to data, studies, or other evidence showing that designating something a hate crime deters, prevents, or reduces that crime or helps authorities catch perpetrators.
At worst, hate crime laws and their emphasis on individual bad motives can distract from more systemic issues.”
“The label “Asian American” is almost comically flattening.
It consists of people from more than 50 ethnic groups, all with different cultures, languages, religions, and their own sets of historic and contemporary international conflicts. It includes newly arrived migrants and Asians who have been on American soil for multiple generations. Depending on visa types, immigration status, and class, there are vast differences even among those from the same country. In fact, the income gaps between some Asian American groups are among the largest of any ethnic category in the nation. Yet these differences are rarely explored and discussed.”
“Two recent studies found that online animosity and offline hate incidents against Asian Americans heightened after Trump linked China and COVID-19 in his tweets; another study found that Trump’s framing of the pandemic as China’s fault increased anti-Asian sentiments and xenophobia in survey experiments; and there’s evidence, too, that rank-and-file Republicans have become much more hostile toward China during the pandemic — views that experts warn pose a threat to all Asian Americans.”
“Over the past year, anti-Asian incidents have surged across the country: There have been more than 2,800 since last spring, according to Stop AAPI Hate, which has been tracking people’s reports. Ranging from verbal abuse and workplace discrimination to storefront vandalism and physical violence, many of these assaults have been fueled by xenophobic sentiment that seeks to scapegoat Asian Americans for the spread of the coronavirus, given its origins in China.”
“Kulkarni emphasizes that Trump’s rhetoric had a clear effect in stoking xenophobia and fueling these attacks, many of which fed off longstanding tropes about Asian Americans as perpetual foreigners who can never be fully American. “We would often see increased violence or hate and discrimination when the president would make remarks. We saw that was having direct impact on the perpetrators,” she said, regarding the Stop AAPI Hate tracker. Additionally, the association of Asian Americans with the coronavirus activated age-old stereotypes that have associated immigrants of Asian descent with “weird” foods, dirtiness, and illness.
Anti-Asian attacks in the past year have been wide-ranging. According to the Stop AAPI Hate tracker, they’ve included an Asian American child getting pushed off her bike by a bystander at a park, a family at a grocery store getting spat on and accused of being responsible for the coronavirus, and vandalism outside businesses. Then there is the death of Ratanapakdee in San Francisco this past month: Members of his family told KTVU that they believe the attack on him was racially motivated.
In a recent executive action, President Joe Biden condemned anti-Asian racism, marking a stark change from the Trump administration. He’s also instructed the Justice Department to begin gathering data on these attacks and to strip discriminatory language from federal documents. But it is going to take more than one message denouncing such acts to maintain this dialogue and ensure that members of these communities get the funding and legal backing they need.”
“To provide some context for the range of discrimination that’s been experienced — and show what Asian Americans have been facing as they walk down the street or make a quick stop at the grocery store in towns and cities across America — here are some accounts that have been reported to Stop AAPI Hate, in people’s own words.”
“Asian American voters didn’t always lean Democratic. In 1992, less than a third of Asian Americans voted Democratic. But nowadays, most Asian Americans identify as Democrats, with more than half saying they plan to back Joe Biden and less than a third saying they’d vote for President Trump, according to the latest Asian American Voter Survey released this week.”
“The different groups that comprise Asian American voters are divided over how much — and whether — they will back Biden for president.1 For instance, Filipino Americans are more evenly divided among supporting Biden and Trump than Japanese Americans. And Indian Americans, who have been reliably Democratic for years, now show some signs of slowly shifting to the right. Finally, Vietnamese Americans lean pretty consistently Republican.”
“it’s important that we don’t read too much into one survey. Only about 250 respondents were in each subgroup, putting the margin of error at +/- 6 percentage points for each group.”