Secret agents to protect Asians?

Violence against Asian Americans has no place in the America of the 21st century. Photo: Unsplash

The FilAm Editorial

New York City has started to deploy “secret agents” all across the five boroughs to catch the thugs, the Karens, and the dime-a-dozen bullies who attack Asian Americans. The undercover cops – all of them of Asian ethnicity – will be roaming public places, such as subways, grocery stores, and streets to make sure they catch perpetrators of violence against Asians, especially the elderly, quickly.

“The next person you target whether it’s through speech, menacing activity — or anything else. Walking along a sidewalk or on a train platform may be a plainclothes NYC Police officer. So think twice,” New York City Police Commissioner Dermot Shea is quoted as saying in the news reports.

This is the first experiment possibly of its kind as the city and the rest of the country struggle to contain anti-Asian bias crimes which surged 150 percent in 2020, even though hate crimes overall have declined. An NBC report says New York and Los Angeles had it worse.

While we welcome the cloak-and-dagger experiment, we believe it will not be enough to keep bias crimes down. Why? Because 1) There won’t be enough secret agents to do the job; 2) There appears to be this long-held resentment against Asian Americans because of the stereotype that they are a “model minority” and economically successful which has gone beyond Donald Trump’s racist rhetoric; 3) Law enforcement remains bogged down in hairsplitting definitions of what hate crime is.

If only there is a magic wand that will make hate disappear. In that perfect world, people are color blind. We treat each other simply as people. Same two eyes, two ears, a mouth, hair. In that world, hating each other for the color of our skins or the curve of our eyes is just remarkably irrational. And now here we are, punching and maiming Asian Americans because of pure hate.

There is no other way to describe the paroxysm of anger that has struck our communities but the deranged outpouring of the sickness plaguing our society. Those who wield the violence care not for who they harm. It could be the elderly coming out of the grocery store or the family man on his way to work. In the fevered recesses of their minds, lashing out is justified.

It does not help that some law enforcement officials sought to downplay the attacks, one calling a gunman who fired at massage parlors in Atlanta as “having a bad day.”  

Beyond Atlanta, it remains troubling why no charges (as of this writing) have yet been brought up against the suspect who slashed the face of Noel Quintana in an NYC subway. Is it still being debated whether the violence committed meets the so-called “criteria” for a hate crime? Nitpicking over motives is stupefyingly vacuous. Racism is racism.

It is time for Asian Americans to state plainly what these attacks are: They are crimes against humanity which has no place in the America of the 21st century.

President Joe Biden has urged Congress to “swiftly pass” legislation to address the crisis of “anti-Asian violence that has long plagued our nation.” Congress, you say? Surely, something can be done at the local level without having to wait for GOP lawmakers to come around and acknowledge that America has an anti-Asian problem.

In the meantime, sure, let’s have those secret agents.

(C) The FilAm 2021

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