The COVID-19 pandemic has created a health and economic crisis in our country that is disproportionately impacting marginalized communities. Beyond the medical virus, the COVID crisis has surfaced another festering virus: a surge in xenophobia and scapegoating.
From the beginning of the pandemic, irresponsible political rhetoric and misinformation has fueled hate against the Asian American community, which has been targeted time and time again with despicable xenophobic comments and violent attacks. Asian Americans have been consistently and libelously blamed for the origin and spread of the coronavirus.
Though attacks against Asian Americans at the onset of the pandemic were more widely reported, the media has failed to adequately report on a recent barrage of despicable attacks ahead of the Lunar New Year against Asian Americans across the country. It’s unacceptable.
Last week in New York City, while on the subway, a 61-year-old Filipino American man was brutally attacked by another man who kicked him and slashed his face with a box cutter, sending him to the hospital (read story: https://ph.news.yahoo.com/filipino-man-face-disfigured…). In San Jose, CA a 64-year-old Vietnamese American woman was robbed after exiting her bank, with money she had withdrawn for the Lunar New Year (read story: https://www.ktvu.com/…/asian-community-feels-targeted…). Less than two weeks ago in San Francisco, an 84-year-old Thai man was assaulted while taking a walk; he tragically died two days later (read story: https://www.khaosodenglish.com/…/84-yr-old-thai-man…/).These are just a few of the appalling assaults that have occurred, motivated by xenophobia and racism.
We must recognize that hate comes in all forms from people of all backgrounds and all political persuasions. Hate crimes are not just committed by neo-Nazis and Klansmen.
As American Jews, we know how scapegoating and baseless conspiracy theories can lead to hate and violence. We’ve seen that throughout history, when there is crisis, disease outbreak, or societal unrest, marginalized communities are the most vulnerable. During the Black Plague, Jews were blamed, attacked, and massacred. We know the pain of enduring such hatred, and we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our Asian American siblings today and every day.
We also know the kind of hate that manifests in holding individual Americans accountable for the actions — real or perceived — of a foreign government. During World War II, Japanese Americans were accused of loyalty to Japan and held in internment camps — a stain on our country’s history.
This behavior is not new, but it is becoming easier to recognize. It is essential that we all fight against xenophobia by calling it out and supporting minority communities. Our leaders must also do more to educate the public about the rise of these hate crimes against Asian American communities and take action on combating them. Recently, President Biden signed a memorandum denouncing discrimination against the Asian American community, an important first step that we hope to see followed by further action.
We must all do more to show up for vulnerable communities during this incredibly challenging time. Speak up about the unconscionable attacks against Asian Americans with the hashtags #hateisavirus and #protectourelders. Below, we’ve also included some organizations on the front lines of combating hate and fighting for justice. Please consider supporting them.