The nation was horrified on Wednesday night after a 21 year old white gunman targeted Asian owned and operated spas in Atlanta, Georgia. Among the eight murdered were six Asian employees in what's the latest crescendo of a constant rise in hate crimes targeting Asian-Americans since the pandemic upended daily life in the United States.
Atlanta law enforcement says the killer blamed his atrocities on a sex addiction that he associated with these businesses, but that's met significant backlash from those calling on officials to recognize the worsening racism and violence toward Asian Americans in the past year.
A lot of that increasing hate can be laid at the feet of former President Donald Trump and his allies.
For months, Trump insisted on wholly blaming China for the virus in order to distract from his own failures. He repeatedly referred to it as the "China Virus," even after acknowledging the stratospheric rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans with his embrace of that rhetoric.
On March 17 of last year, White House correspondent Weijia Jiang, a Chinese-American, said that a White House official referred to the virus as "Kung-Flu" in her presence.
This morning a White House official referred to #Coronavirus as the “Kung-Flu” to my face. Makes me wonder what the… https://t.co/2Gn87vQVd0— Weijia Jiang (@Weijia Jiang)1584455713.0
Immediately, White House officials promoted skepticism of Jiang's claim, with then-presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway calling the term "highly offensive" and berated Jiang for not revealing her source.
Only three months later, then-President Trump used the phrase himself at a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma and again later that week at a youth rally in Arizona. White House officials, including Conway, rallied to defend him.
Congressman Ted Lieu (D-CA) called Trump out for this in a recent tweet connecting the Trump administration's frequent racist rhetoric to the murders.
The former President used racist phrases like Kung Flu that inflamed discrimination against the Asian American comm… https://t.co/vPhgvHmarA— Ted Lieu (@Ted Lieu)1615958889.0
One year ago, we had a former President and White House officials inflaming hate against Asian Americans. Some elec… https://t.co/MVEibS6Kmg— Ted Lieu (@Ted Lieu)1615994872.0
As recently as last week, the former President—in a statement crediting himself with President Joe Biden's vaccine rollout—as the "China Virus."
Lieu's rebuke of Trump's rhetoric and the violence it's helped provoke generated a wealth of reactions.
When the whole US government and the two major political parties are targeting China as the major competitor/enemy… https://t.co/8P3qhGs9CP— Eric Cheung (@Eric Cheung)1615969596.0
Trump & his enablers are responsible for this horrific event. Hateful rhetoric turns into violence eventually. Repu… https://t.co/4FcIi5XGxT— Jay Hernandez (@Jay Hernandez)1615959423.0