Atlanta shooting shows violence is now routine

It will be a while before we get a full picture of the motives behind the shootings at three spas in the Atlanta area late Tuesday afternoon, which police allege were committed by a 21-year-old white man. But the contours of the violence make one explanation plausible. Among the eight dead were six women of Asian descent, leading the Stop AAPI Hate advocacy group to describe the killings as an “unspeakable tragedy — for the families of the victims first and foremost, but also for the AAPI community — which has been reeling from high levels of racial discrimination.”

Police on Wednesday morning said they were still trying to unravel what drove the gunman, but said he may have been propelled by sexual addiction and his desire to, in effect, eliminate temptation. Yet the targeted businesses employed a high number of Asian workers — one spa, in which four women were killed, is named Young’s Asian Massage Parlor — so even if the motive sprang from another darkness, the result still left at least six people of Asian descent shot dead.

If it turns out that the spark for this particular mass shooting arose from a tortured mind and libido, Asian Americans still are right to worry about possible connections between the killings and the surge of violence targeting them.

Also worth noting: Police allege that the gunman targeted women (only one of the dead was male) for the “crime” of being the object of his sexual temptation. Ironically, the killings happened a day before the House of Representatives was set to vote — again — to revive the federal Violence Against Women Act.

There’s a lot at play here, but more broadly, racial animosity, misogyny and easy access to firearms are a disturbingly routine confluence of three of the ugliest aspects of American society. That the violence in the Atlanta area quickly led minds to presume, rightly or wrongly, that another act of anti-Asian racism had occurred was not at all surprising, given the current backdrop.


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