June 16, 2021

THE WRONG SORT OF VIOLENCE: What’s Really Behind the Reported Spike in Anti-Asian Hate Crimes? We’re told it’s “white supremacy” and Trump’s — correct — blaming of China for the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic. (See, e.g., Jon Stewart.) But in fact:

Take, for example, the vicious murder of 84 year-old Thai retiree Vicha Ratanapakdee in San Francisco this January. In the New York Times, it was portrayed as a kind of culmination of anti-Asian hate, with the Times putting the tragedy in the context of “President Donald J. Trump repeatedly referring to the coronavirus as the ‘Chinese virus.’” which it touted as being linked to crimes such as that which was committed against Ratanapakdee.

And yet, the facts do not at all conform to this narrative. The perpetrator, 19-year-old Antoine Watson, was vandalizing a car when Ratanpakdee spotted him and began walking in the opposite direction. That caused Watson — who allegedly yelled, “Why ya looking at me?” before barreling into Ratanapakdee — to knock the elderly man over, resulting in the brain hemorrhage that would kill him. The motivation seems to have had nothing to do with race, then, as Watson comes from a biracial family that includes Asians, and Ratanapakdee’s race was likely indiscernible thanks to his being covered up head-to-toe for the winter weather.

His death was likely the product not of racial animus stoked for political reasons, but of minor criminality turned major in a moment of panic and uncontrolled rage; Watson had been cited by police already on the day of the attack for reckless driving after a dispute with his family.

San Francisco saw another attack on an Asian-American resident when a female police officer approached 33 year-old homeless man Gerardo Contreras and asked him to comply with a pat-down on Memorial Day. Suddenly in the middle of the interaction, Contreras attacked the officer, overpowering and choking her before the intervention of bystanders and other officers prevented the worst. Contreras’s history of mental-health struggles and prior arrests strongly suggest that it was circumstance, not the recently revived lab-leak theory that motivated the attack.

In fact, homelessness and recidivism have both proven to be recurring themes in many of these assaults. That same day on the opposite coast, 48- year-old Alexander Wright walked up to and punched an Asian woman in New York City’s Chinatown. Wright was living on the streets and had already accumulated 40 prior arrests at the time of the attack, including a number of them for violent crimes like assault. Video of his arrest shows Wright shouting “he hit me!,” and synthetic marijuana was found on his person.

Other attacks show similar fact patterns. Earlier that month, 37-year-old homeless woman Ebony Jackson wielded a hammer against two Asian women after they refused to shed their face coverings on the sidewalk in New York at Jackson’s request. No evidence has yet emerged that the troubled attacker was motivated by race, much less the lab-leak theory. Similarly, in San Francisco, Patrick Thompson, a 54-year-old man with mental-health issues arrested for assault with a deadly weapon in 2017, approached and stabbed two elderly Asian women from behind in February.

Another February stabbing of an Asian victim, this one by 19-year-old Salman Muflihi was ruled not to have been motivated by anti-Asian bias. Muflihi, who had previously been arrested for assaulting his own brother, ran up to a nearby security guard after committing the act, telling him, “I just stabbed someone” before asking, “Where are the police at?”

That’s okay, the press reports will tell you what you’re supposed to think.

Plus: “These attacks are a part of a larger breakdown in the social order. The de facto decriminalization of offenses such as shoplifting in California, along with the demonization of law-enforcement agencies, combines to embolden criminals, giving them a false sense of invincibility. The aforementioned Patrick Thompson? He was released into the general public after his arrest and failed to show up for his original arraignment date.”

How about that?

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