Latest figure on anti-Asian hate crimes may indicate positive trend

By Gilda Pasion-Balan, Correspondent

LOS ANGELES – The hate crimes in the US against Asians and Asian-Americans have been hogging the news for the past two years, beginning shortly after the coronavirus pandemic forced businesses and communities to shut down.

Former president Donald Trump has been partly blamed for the hateful attacks against innocent men and women of Asian descent, including senior citizens. He referred to COVID-19 as the China flu at the start of the worst pandemic in more than a hundred years.

Hate crimes began shortly thereafter, numbering in the hundreds in 2000. The following year, Asian hate crimes rose 224 percent, although the numbers appear to be dropping in many places in 2022.

In her column in the Los Angeles Times last week, Anita Chabria asked, “How do you stop hate crimes? How do you even know where to begin?”

The assaults may be dropping, but they are still occurring with frightful regularity throughout the US.

She cited the latest attempts by the state of California to address the issue through two state-sponsored and funded efforts.

First, the Commission on the State of Hate seeks to understand why hate crimes are rising and how to combat them, Chabria wrote.

Then the Governor’s Council on Holocaust and Genocide Education examines how to inoculate California school children against the misinformation and propaganda that kindle animosity, the LA Times columnist pointed out.

She said that while she is generally not a big fan of commissions when it comes to solving problems, “these are different.”

Chabria believes that the members of the commission are mostly “a no-nonsense group known for getting results.”

One commission member, Bamby Salcedo, said, “It’s important for all of us to wake up and to understand that hate is real and hate is happening in front of our eyes.”

While the year is not yet over, if indeed the number of attacks against Asian-Americans is lower this year compared to last year, it could mean that the various campaigns including #StopAsianHate are beginning to show results.

The unspoken fear is that Donald Trump could return to the White House in 2024, and this will almost certainly cause a resurgence of hate crimes.

Another commission member, Erroll Southers, was quoted by Chabria as noting that the hate crimes have increasingly been tied to politics, extreme right-wing politics to be precise.

Southers is also quoted as saying that “there are people out there on the fringe who feel a need to engage.”

The message of hate continues to be carried in mass media, and the downward trend in hate crimes will only be temporary if one of the sparks to that senseless hatred finds his way back to the Oval Office two years from now.