He was having a bad day.
So said Cherokee County Sheriff’s spokesman Jay Baker by way of explaining last week’s mass shootings at three Atlanta-area massage parlors. The suspect, a 21-year-old white man whose name won’t be used here, is said to have told police he suffers a sex addiction at odds with his Christian faith. They say he shot up the massage parlors as a way of removing sexual temptation.
Apparently, the idea of counseling never occurred to this guy. He couldn’t keep his pants zipped, so women had to die. And, in the current climate, it is hardly irrelevant that six of the eight people, he allegedly killed — one person survived — were Asian women.
“Yesterday was a really bad day for him,” said Baker, “and this is what he did.” It was an odd, sympathy-for-the-devil kind of statement that rang blithely oblivious to the fresh trauma of a gun-scarred nation and, in particular, its Asian citizens. Hearing it, was anyone truly surprised by reports that Baker once took to Facebook promoting T-shirts describing COVID-19 as an “Imported virus from Chy-Na”? No.
And in so doing, this putative public servant became part of the problem for 22 million Americans of Asian heritage. For them, this tragedy was the all-too-predictable capstone of a year of elders assaulted on the streets, of a woman spat upon, of a boy sent to the emergency room, a pandemic year in which malice toward Asians — “China virus!” “kung flu!” “Wuhan flu!” — was cheered on from the White House itself.
We may reasonably presume, however, that none of those 22 million people will respond by murdering random strangers. In America that has always been a form of problem-solving reserved almost exclusively for white men. And if some Asian person did go to that horrific extreme, it’s unlikely he or she would afterward enjoy the solicitude of some sympathetic cop.