Anti-Asian violence surges in U.S. during COVID-19 pandemic

Japhy Barrera, is a member of the YCL’s Birmingham branch

There has been an upsurge in violence against Asians and Asian-Americans across the U.S. in recent weeks. The elderly have especially been targeted by these attacks; among them was Vicha Ratanapakdee, an 84-year-old from Thailand who died after an unprovoked race-based assault in San Francisco. Several others, including a 91-year-old in Oakland, were attacked, sustaining non-fatal injuries. 

In Oakland’s Chinatown alone, there have been 20 incidents of violence and robberies since January this year. The ‘Stop Asian-American/Pacific Islander Hate’ organisation has observed over 2,800 reports of anti-Asian discrimination in the country during the pandemic in 2020. During that period there was also an increase in anti-Asian hate crimes by 1,900% in New York. 

The rise in anti-Asian hate crimes in the U.S. has by no coincidence been congruent with the COVID-19 pandemic. Since March of last year, terms like ‘Chinese Virus’ and ‘Wuhan Flu’ have been used by former President Donald Trump among others.

At the beginning of the pandemic, a rumour began to circulate that the virus had been man-made in a laboratory in China. This was not just pub gossip either, Trump is widely credited for popularizing the hoax, claiming that he had evidence that he was not allowed to show. The theory is widely debunked by scientists, citing that the vast majority of similar viruses come from animals and lack of evidence to the contrary.

Even among those who do not take up ludicrous conspiracies, there is a sense of blame assigned to China. After it was announced in the UK that pandemic restrictions would not be extensively lifted over the holiday period, Nigel Farage, leader of the former Brexit Party, tweeted “Christmas cancelled. Thank you, China.” Although Farage is well known for similarly absurd remarks, it is observable that many share this sentiment. Those who are committing racist acts of violence are doing so in the footsteps of politicians who dog whistle their followers to do so.

American liberals have responded to the situation, as they do to many, by berating Trump as the sole cause. Although the former President certainly stoked the fire at any opportunity he could get, many still fail to realize that he was merely a symptom of a far greater issue. For decades, the NATO propaganda machine, with the U.S. at its core, has been weaponizing a new ‘Cold War’ narrative against the People’s Republic of China. Since the PRC began to challenge western hegemony through their rapidly developing economy, the U.S. and its cronies have fabricated story after story in a bid for global power and influence.

Through this understanding, one can see that conspiracies facilitated by figures like Trump and Farage are not at all out of the ordinary, but rather perfectly suited to the foreign policy ambitions of their respective nations. They aim to facilitate xenophobic Asian stereotypes of conniving foreigners with secret plots for global domination. For this reason, some believe that by assaulting or publicly castigating an Asian or Asian-American in the name of justice for COVID-19, they are actually serving a patriotic duty. However perverse this mindset is, it is one enabled by an imperialist state and its accompanying arms of the media.

Although the virus was discovered in China in December of 2019, there is no evidence that it actually originated there. In fact, evidence has shown traces of the virus in Spain as early as March of 2019. Conveniently none of this has been reckoned with in the western mainstream media. This is because the potentiality of the pandemic originating in Europe would completely dismantle the chronology of the virus depicted by the U.S. thus far, a depiction knee-deep in bad faith geopolitical motives.

Further, even though the virus originally pervaded within Wuhan and China, the country, along with its ruling Communist Party, got it under control very quickly and efficiently. Only discovered in December 2019, new cases were down to 0-50 per day by early March 2020, a rate that they have maintained ever since. They have had under 90,000 cases throughout the entire pandemic (as of February 22, 2021), a total that the U.S. now produces nearly every day, if not more.

Anti-sinophobia protest in San Francisco

With China’s population more than quadruple that of the United States, it is clear that the reasons for this disparity are exclusively institutional. The countries worst hit by COVID-19 are the ones that have thoroughly prioritized profits over people, and intentionally neglected their healthcare infrastructure. This most pertinently applies to the U.S. which still does not guarantee healthcare to all of its citizens as a right. 

It is increasingly clear that the narratives being pushed to enable violence against Asians and Asian-Americans are ones of deep insecurity. The vulnerability induced by the late-stage capitalist infrastructure maintained within the United States is provoking an ignorant rage at the cost of safety for its own citizens.

Protests and rallies have sprung up across the country to bring awareness to this widely overlooked racial violence. Among the protests are those who are trying to rectify this situation by calling for more policing and stronger state intervention in the matter; these people are missing the point. Within the imperialist, racist, capitalist United States is the origin of this issue, and only through replacing that state will the problem end. 

Japhy Barrera

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