John Oliver condemned the recent Atlanta shootings during Sunday’s “Last Week Tonight”.
Eight people, the majority of them women of Asian descent, died in the March 16 shootings, which took place at three different spas in the Atlanta, Georgia area.
Oliver played a clip of Captain Jay Baker of the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office suggesting the suspected shooter, Robert Aaron Long, had been having a “bad day.”
It’s also been reported Long had a sex addiction and that he saw the spas as “a temptation.”
“Absolutely, f**king not,” Oliver insisted. “You get that this is a press conference about mass murder, right? You don’t get to minimize what happened like that.”
“I will say, a white man driving across counties to two different towns, going to three Asian-owned businesses, shooting and killing six Asian women, in a city that’s only about 4 per cent Asian sure as s**t seems a lot more like a hate crime than a ‘bad f**king day,’” Oliver added.
The host pointed out that this was just the latest in a long line of hate-related attacks against Asians and Asian Americans, also playing a clip of President Joe Biden saying, “Vicious hate crimes against Asian Americans who’ve been attacked, harassed, blamed and scapegoated… It’s wrong, it’s un-American, and it must stop.”
“Yeah, it must,” Oliver agreed. “And I am really glad he condemned hate crimes against Asian Americans there, but to say that they are ‘un-American’? I’d love to visit the nation that exists in Joe Biden’s head, because it’s a place where racism is ‘not who we are’ and racial attacks against Asians are somehow ‘un-American,’ despite the fact — and far be it from me to explain this to someone who seems like he’s lived through most of American history — anti-Asian racism has long been a fact of American life.”
The star, who shared numerous examples of previous anti-Asian hate crimes, went on, “And our long, ugly history of anti-Asian racism — and the fact it often peaks during times of crisis — is the very reason why, just last year, many were loudly warning that Trump calling COVID names like ‘the China virus’ was likely to lead to a rise in violence against people of Asian descent, an argument at that at the time, not everyone seemed to find convincing,” before playing a clip of Meghan McCain saying she didn’t care what people called COVID-19 because it did originate in Wuhan.
He also shared a clip of NBA basketball player Jeremy Lin talking to Anderson Cooper about how he was called “coronavirus” on the court, saying how people would ask things like, “Where are you really from?”
“Comments like ‘Where are you really from?’ are constant reminders of how Asian Americans throughout history have been regarded as outsiders — as people who don’t belong,” Oliver said.
He added of the shootings, “The fact the killer chose these particular women working low wage jobs as targets for his ‘sex addiction’ speaks to how Asian American women, in particular, have to deal with hypersexualization and how Asian workers to the extent that they are seen at all are seen more for the labour that they provide rather than the full three-dimensional humans that they are.”
Oliver continued, “Asian American and Asian immigrant communities have been feeling extremely vulnerable for a long time and especially so right now. And for a group whose suffering has historically felt invisible to the media and the country at large, it’s important that we acknowledge that pain right now.”
ET Canada stands with the Asian community in working together to stop anti-Asian racism in Canada, the United States, and around the world to #StopAsianHate.
Canadians can stay informed by following community groups and leaders, including but not limited to: https://nextshark.com/, https://www.dearasianyouth.org/home, https://www.thepeahceproject.com/ and https://www.asianmhc.org/instagram-partners.
If you or someone you know is experiencing hate-crimes related to xenophobic attacks in Canada you can file a report at: https://www.elimin8hate.org/fileareport.
Bystander intervention training to anti-Asian and xenophobic harassment is available at: ihollaback.org/bystanderintervention/.