A jungle of violencePARK HYUN-YOUNG
The author is a Washington correspondentof the JoongAng Ilbo.
I liked to talk on the phone or listen to podcasts while walking. But I don’t put my earphones on when walking in downtown Washington so that I can be aware of my surroundings. If I use earphones, it is hard to know whether there’s someone behind me or if person is talking to me or walking faster suddenly.
It is a new habit I’ve developed as crimes against Asian Americans are on the rise in the United States. If I run into a stranger in a secluded place, I look around to see if there’s any surveillance cameras.It is more often that I don’t find them.
If there’s video footage, the possibility of making a case public and arresting the assailant goes up. Video clips leave a lasting impression. On the video, elderly Asians are attacked unexpectedly. The assailants sometimes attack from behind, but some boldly punch from the front. You can easily find Asian women posting on social media that they no longer listen to music on the street. In California, New York and New Jersey, young people volunteer to escort elderly Asians when they need to go out.
Random attacks are frightening because there is no preventative measure and anyone can be a victim anytime. The victims are mostly elderly and middle-aged Asian American women. They are the most vulnerable group. There is no statistics on the assailants.
The perpetrators are hard to stereotype. The shooter in Atlanta last month was a 21-year-old white male, and the man who kicked an 84-year-old on a wheelchair in San Francisco was a 23-year-old Hispanic male.
The Joe Biden administration is reinforcing police investigations on hate crimes and newly installed a position coordinating various agencies. Congress also presented a bill denouncing hate crimes. But it is not likely that there will be a solution in the near future. First, national public opinion in the United States hasn’t been established. While some media address it, Korean media are reporting the news more than American media.
The George Floyd case last year raised the racial issue, and the world is enraged by the brutal abuse of public power by American cops. People stood up against the abuse of public power.
The latest crimes against Asians are often blamed on mentally unsound individuals. The Atlanta gunman was absorbed in self-proclaimed “sex addition” and extremist religion, and the black man who repeatedly kicked a Filipino woman was homeless and served 16 years in prison for killing his mother.
Before America gets the disgrace of being labeled a “jungle” dominated by the physically strong, the Biden administration needs to address the issue seriously without political calculation.