Press TV: President Joe Biden says the United States has long been haunted by “the ugly poison” of racism and hate, telling Americans that “our silence is complicity” in the wake of this week’s mass shooting in Atlanta that left eight people dead, including six women of Asian descent.
After meeting with leaders of Georgia’s Asian-American community on Friday, Biden delivered a speech at Atlanta’s Emory University and condemned the upsurge of violence against Asian Americans.
The president lamented that the bigotry and violence have been “often met with silence” in America, telling the grief-stricken community that, “We cannot be complicit.”
“Our silence is complicity. We cannot be complicit. We have to speak out. We have to act,” Biden said.
He noted that hate crimes against Asian Americans have been “skyrocketing” since the outbreak of the coronavirus in the US more than a year ago.
Asian Americans have been “attacked, blamed, scapegoated and harassed. They’ve been verbally assaulted, physically assaulted, killed,” he added.
Former president Donald Trump repeatedly called COVID-19—which has now killed some 540,000 people in the United States — the “China virus” after the country where the deadly pathogen was first detected.
Biden, without mentioning Trump by name, took a swipe at his predecessor for making the insinuation, saying, “Words have consequences. It’s the coronavirus, full stop.”
Stop AAPI, a nonprofit organization that tracks incidents of hate and discrimination against Asian Americans, has recorded nearly 3,800 cases of attacks against the community in the US since last year, including verbal and physical assaults, discrimination and civil rights abuses.
Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris’ pre-scheduled trip to Atlanta was originally intended to focus on touting the benefits of a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package that he has recently signed into law.
However, the White House scrapped plans for a rally in the wake of the mass shooting.
The president began the trip with a visit to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where he boasted that his administration has managed to administer 100 million vaccine doses in 60 days.
This week’s carnage prompted Biden and his vice president to add a meeting with Asian-American leaders in Georgia’s largest city.
“The conversation we had today with the leaders, and that we’re hearing all across the country, is that hate and violence often hide in plain sight. It’s often met with silence,” he said.
Biden urged Congress to pass the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which he said would speed up the federal response to hate crimes that have risen during the pandemic.
Biden and Harris stopped short of explicitly describing the Atlanta massacre as an instance of hate crime, but noted that—whatever the motive—the shooting did occur amid a rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans.
“Racism is real in America and it has always been. Xenophobia is real in America and always has been — sexism too,” Harris said.
Three massage parlors around Atlanta were targeted Tuesday, and a 21-year-old suspect was arrested in connection with the carnage. Robert Aaron Long faces eight counts of murder and one charge of aggravated assault. And before the Atlanta attack…
Spike in violent attacks against Asian Americans sounds alarm in US
A spike in violent attacks targeting Asian Americans in the United States has prompted the minority group to raise the alarm.
Andrew Yang warned on Friday of the rise in violence against the Asian American community, noting that many Asian Americans feel “more at risk”.
Yang, who is running as New York City mayoral candidate, said the increase in anti-Asian violence must be taken “very, very seriously”.
A US report on Friday cited Chinatown storeowner Kenneth Lam in Oakland, California as saying that a group of three suspects recently tried to rob his store in Renaissance Plaza, nearly killing him in the attempt.
“They tried to kill me. They literally said that and used their car to try to run me over,” Lam said
A disturbingly graphic and shocking video from Oakland’s Chinatown last month showed a 91-year-old man senselessly pushed to the ground, putting the community on high alert.
Also in January, a local television station in the Anza Vista neighborhood of San Francisco showed footage of a young man sprinting toward, then violently shoving to the ground, a man identified as Vicha Ratanapakdee, 84, who had been out for a morning walk . He later died.
Ratanapakdee had moved to San Francisco from Thailand four years ago to help his daughter and son-in-law take care of their two sons.
Numerous incidents of this kind, targeting Asian Americans business owners and elderly Asians, began following former US president Donald Trump’s racist rhetoric and repeated rebuke of China and other Asian countries.
The attacks quickly reinvigorated simmering outrage and fear over a wave of anti-Asian violence and harassment that community leaders say was spurred earlier in the coronavirus pandemic by the rhetoric of Trump, who insisted on calling the coronavirus “the China virus” or the “Kung Flu.”
Carl Chan, president of the Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce, has tallied more than 20 assaults in past weeks in Oakland’s Chinatown alone.
He said many more attacks are not reported because people fear being targeted again and because it can take hours for the police to arrive at the scene of crime.
The administration of US President Joe Biden appears to be pursuing the same policy against China as his predecessor, making allegations against Beijing’s purported “expansionist” intentions in East and Southeast Asia and siding with China’s rivals in territorial disputes.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken described the Asian superpower as “the biggest geopolitical test”.
Relations with Beijing “will be competitive when it should be, collaborative when it can be, and adversarial when it must be,” adding that the United States is “ready to confront China wherever necessary,” Blinken said.
Blinken’s remarks resonated with comments by the US spy chief accusing China of preparing for “an open-ended period of confrontation with the US”.
Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe described China in December as “the greatest threat to democracy and freedom worldwide since World War II.”