'New York Times' Thought We Needed To Read Bret Stephens Whitesplaining Hate Crimes To Asian Americans
There has been a steady and alarming rise in anti-Asian attacks and hate crimes in the past year. It certainly hasn't helped that a POS former US president scapegoated Asians for a pandemic he ignored. Last week, a gunman killed six women of Asian descent in Atlanta. It's a disturbing time, specifically for Asian Americans, so the New York Times in its infinite wisdom decided to print some tut-tutting garbage from noted non-Asian columnist Bret Stephens.
For many years, Gallup has been gauging America's confidence in its institutions. Journalism has not fared well. In 2020, just 24 percent of Americans had either a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in newspapers. Thirty-nine percent had very little or none. For television news, the respective figures were even worse, 18 versus 49.
How to explain this lack of confidence? One reason may be that we keep proving ourselves unworthy of it.
Is this an op-ed or a resignation letter? We won't weep if Stephens follows Bari Weiss out the door.
Stephens raps the press on the knuckles for supposedly jumping to conclusions about the Atlanta massacre while simultaneously claiming that we should believe whatever a deranged shooter tells us. It's the damndest thing.
He argues that journalists should give readers the facts and not play to our fears, which is actually what happened. The fact is that six out of eight women killed at Atlanta-area spas were of Asian descent. Atlanta has an Asian population of about five percent, so this is statistically relevant information. Stephens disagrees.
The identity of the perpetrator is clear.
And the motive, while still requiring scrutiny, is confessed: The killer claims to have been struggling with a sex addiction at odds with his evangelical beliefs.
Yes, killers claim a lot of things. That doesn't make what they say plausible. If someone shoots up a bunch of Krispy Kremes and six of the eight victims are uniformed cops, it's a reasonable assumption that cops were targeted. The police certainly wouldn't uncritically repeat the killer's declared motive that he was struggling with a food addiction.
White supremacy has historical roots in Southern evangelicalism. A white Christian male unleashing his frustrated sexual rage disproportionately on Asian women isn't a coincidence. Also, Stephens declaring why Asian Americans, especially Asian women, shouldn't feel threatened right now reminds me of Chuck Todd's recent "Meet the Press" panel with noted non-Asian experts on Asian American issues.
Dear @chucktodd and @MSNBC Do you maybe see a problem here with the panel you convened today to discuss hate crim… https://t.co/ujzonHCLZS— Don Winslow (@Don Winslow) 1616377883.0
Stephens chastises the media for "trying to map one truth onto another for the sake of a compelling narrative," before bolstering his point with the worst paragraph printed in the Times until his next column:
In 2003, Saddam Hussein wanted weapons of mass destruction, previously possessed and used them and had a long history of obstructing international inspectors. But it didn't mean that Hussein had W.M.D.s. In 2016, Donald Trump said nice things about Russia and WikiLeaks, and Russia, using WikiLeaks, sought to meddle in the U.S. election to help Trump get elected. But the mutuality of interests didn't add up to collusion, at least not in any way that could be successfully prosecuted in court.
Disgraced former Times reporter Judith Miller used the publication as a propaganda outlet for George W. Bush's Iraq adventure. She uncritically printed Dick Cheney's press releases and the result was disaster that cost the lives of more than 100,000 people. That's a hell of a lot different from interpreting obvious facts about a hate crime.
While the Times has no credibility on the Iraq War, Stephens is still free to express his opinion. He's on shakier ground about Trump's Russian collusion, which he dismisses out of hand. The Times offered a more damning account when reporting on the Senate's three-year investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 election.
The report by the Senate Intelligence Committee, totaling nearly 1,000 pages, [...] provided a bipartisan Senate imprimatur for an extraordinary set of facts: The Russian government disrupted an American election to help Mr. Trump become president, Russian intelligence services viewed members of the Trump campaign as easily manipulated, and some of Mr. Trump's advisers were eager for the help from an American adversary.
The one-term loser did a lot more than say “nice things about Russia." He didn't just talk up Anna Karenina and Swan Lake during his rallies. He directly asked Russia for help ... on tape, and the Kremlin eagerly obliged!
Yes, Mueller said his team didn't address “collusion" but only because that's not an actual legal term. He determined there wasn't enough evidence to charge anyone in the former guy's campaign with criminal conspiracy. However, he also made clear that the twice-impeached thug "was not exculpated for the acts that he allegedly committed."
Stephens, who we stress is not of Asian descent, downplays the rise in Asian-American hate crimes, claiming “the overall incidence of these crimes is relatively small." A 66-year-old Asian-American man was punched in the face in Manhattan on Saturday, and Stephens is trying to brush this off with statistics. However, he's been more than willingly to freak out over supposed lawlessness in Baltimore.
And while data about the identity of perpetrators is hard to come by, the New York Police Department did keep tabs last year. It found that out of the 20 anti-Asian hate crimes in which arrests were made, two arrestees were white, five were white Hispanic, two were Black Hispanic, and the rest were Black.
What can one conclude from this limited data? Not a lot, except that the idea that white supremacy is what haunts Asian-Americans rests on empirically thin ice.
White people aren't the only ones maintaining a white supremacist society. They have managed to delegate. There are definitely Black and Hispanic Americans with racist views toward Asian Americans. It doesn't help when Republicans actively blame “the Chinese" for a virus that's disproportionately killing Black and Hispanic people. And even before COVID-19, conservatives loved to invoke Asian Americans as “model minorities" when disparaging the Black and Hispanic community.
Here we are, almost a year into another major "racial reckoning," and the New York Times still prioritizes the perspectives of white men over people of color's lived experiences and rational fears. The Times would rather run another profile of MAGA supporters at a rural diner.
Follow Stephen Robinson on Twitter.
Looking for someone to give that cash to? Why not us?
Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."