Atlanta Shootings, Anti-Asian Violence, and Online Radicalization

The Shootings

Robert Aaron Long
Robert Long, 21, shot 8 people on March 16, 2021, including six Asian women at three Atlanta-area massage parlors. This shooting, like many before it—and many that will happen in the future—was predictable. There are certain signs and patterns that indicate to society that this is what will happen. The unpredictable part is that it’s often unclear where and who, but it’s clear that certain things will happen given certain circumstances (stochastic terrorism).

Some people say the Atlanta shootings were an Asian hate crime, which it was. Some say it was misogyny, which it was. Some say it was hatred for sex workers, which it was. It wasn’t just one thing. It was all of these things, and more.

I have been closely studying online radicalization and its real life consequences for the past 3-4 years. Several people asked me for my input so here is my analysis (sources at the end of the article). 

Not a Coincidence nor a Surprise

It’s not a coincidence that the shooter is a young, radicalized, Caucasian male. 

It’s not a coincidence that he has severe sexual issues, including sex addiction, and feels bad about his own visits to massage parlors.

It’s not a coincidence that he has severe psychological and emotional issues.

It’s not a coincidence that he has relationship issues.

It’s not a coincidence that he targeted Asians.

It’s not a coincidence that he targeted women.

It’s not a coincidence that he targeted sex workers.

It’s not a coincidence that he likes guns, and that he was able to buy and use a gun to kill innocent people on the same day.

It’s not a coincidence that he claims to be “a deeply religious person.”

Anti-Asian hate crimes increased 150% in 2020. Robert Long is in the category that is severely affected by radicalization (young, disaffected, emotionally immature, angry, sexually frustrated Caucasian male). 

The kind of online radicalization that spread significantly in the past few years include an ideology that eventually, at its extreme end, leads to the belief that: 

- “White people”* are oppressed and should violently fight back. 

* A term that is never clearly defined because it’s impossible to do soundly. It merely means people whose skin tone looks relatively white, which is inconsistent and useless.

- Men, especially “white” men, are oppressed and perpetual victims and should therefore fight back violently.

- Women are inferior and essentially subhuman to men. 

- Women and men have to meet very strict antiquated societal roles.

- Anti-social (narcissistic, sociopathic, psychopathic, aggressive, violent, cruel, predatory, toxic) behavior is acceptable, even celebrated, especially against one’s political enemies. It is also a normal part of a man’s biological nature.*

* This is what often is referred to as toxic masculinity. It’s neither healthy, nor biological, nor inherently “masculine.”

- Asians* are dangerous and essentially subhuman (e.g., the use of terms like ‘Wuhan flu,’ ‘China virus,’ ‘Kung flu,’ disdain and hate of “non-white” people, etc.).

* Also immigrants, “non-white people,” and everyone who doesn’t believe a certain ideology that often happens to be extremely right wing. Sometimes this category of undesirables is referred to as the other, which is a social segment that is dehumanized and targeted for destruction by the aggressors. 

- Sex is only acceptable between a married man and a woman, and everything else is evil. 

- Masturbation is bad (e.g., NoFap).*

* While masturbation can be used as a dissociation mechanism and, like many things, become an addiction, it is positive or neutral for the most part. It can help one have a healthier sex life, to regulate one’s emotions, and decrease aggression, which also socially results in less rape and violence. And vice versa, sexual frustration increases a radicalized person’s already high levels of anger and rage. That’s why demonizing masturbation is a tactic used for both ISIS, right wing radicalization, and other extremists.

- Sex workers are evil and subhuman. 

- You have to fetishize guns (gun culture) and use them to “save the Western civilization,” “protect your country,” punish the other, and so on.

- You have to “believe in God / Jesus Christ,” and hate everyone who doesn’t or does it differently.

It’s also not a coincidence that the US police and some of the news sources downplay or obfuscate this crime by avoiding to call it a racially motivated crime, even when the shooter, just before opening fire, declared, “I am going to kill all Asians.” Meanwhile, Georgia sheriff spokesperson Jay Baker said that it’s unclear if it was racially motivated and the shooter “was having a really bad day.” Dude was just having a bad day, you know… What’s more, soon after Baker said this, it was uncovered that he’s pushing anti-Asian, hate-promoting t-shirts. 

And so it is predictable that these things will happen given certain circumstances. Circumstances that are increasingly more present in our society. It’s not surprising that these horrid events keep happening. It’s incredibly tragic that, as a society, we not only fail to prevent it from happening, but also keep making it more likely for it to continue happening. 

I personally know Asian people who have been afraid to walk outside for the past year because of these things and continuous escalation of propaganda, disinformation, misinformation, and radicalization that target their demographic. I know people of color who simply want the police to stop shooting them for no reason. I personally know LGBTQ+ people who have been physically attacked, had to go to the hospital, and suffered PTSD merely because they are who they are. I’ve seen so many acquaintances slowly being affected by online propaganda and becoming more and more detached from reality or falsely outraged or even aggressive and harmful to others. It is a big problem that’s getting worse.

If you want to understand how these things happen, a good start would be these two podcasts that were released just a few weeks before the Atlanta shootings happened (updated):

The Rise of Asian American Hate Crime‪s by the Worst Year Ever podcast. 

Talking About the Atlanta Shooting, Purity Culture, & Anti-Asian American Violence by the Worst Year Ever podcast. 

The Birth of the Manosphere by the Behind the Bastards podcast. 

What Can You Do about It? 

- You can learn more about online radicalization.

- You can learn more about how to determine the validity of the information you consume and share around on social media to fight online radicalization and propaganda. So many people wittingly or unwittingly contribute to the spread of toxic and dangerous information. Don’t be one of them.

- You can support marginalized people.

- You can work on becoming more empathetic. 

- You can get to know people who are different than you.

- You can be kinder to people who are vulnerable and have suffered abuse, and less kind to abusers, abuse defenders, and other cruel and harmful people. 


Sources:

https://www.wired.com/story/jargon-watch-rising-danger-stochastic-terrorism/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lone_wolf_(terrorism)#:~:text=The%20stochastic%20terrorism%20model%20is,to%20excite%20a%20generalized%20fear

https://journals.uic.edu/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/10108/7920

https://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/ny-asian-american-communities-mourn-victims-atlanta-shootings-20210317-kgygtdndhjhyhkcoo4vuokhlay-story.html

https://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/ny-20210317-ctdjadd4c5fvbl4gyvgtpedbky-story.html

https://www.cnn.com/2021/03/17/us/robert-aaron-long-suspected-shooter/index.html

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/asian-america/anti-asian-hate-crimes-increased-nearly-150-2020-mostly-n-n1260264

https://www.thedailybeast.com/georgia-sheriff-spokesman-jay-baker-posted-racist-covid-shirts-on-facebook

https://www.newsweek.com/30-anti-asian-incidents-2020-used-rhetoric-like-china-virus-kung-flu-report-says-1577189

https://nypost.com/2021/03/18/georgia-gun-laws-allowed-robert-aaron-long-to-quickly-buy-gun/

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/worst-year-ever/id1478794003?i=1000512478389

https://www.stitcher.com/show/worst-year-ever/episode/talking-about-the-atlanta-shooting-purity-culture-anti-asian-american-violence-82659022

https://www.iheart.com/podcast/105-behind-the-bastards-29236323/episode/part-one-the-birth-of-the-78006084/

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/feb/14/how-far-right-uses-video-games-tech-lure-radicalise-teenage-recruits-white-supremacists

https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2020/11/17/extremists-are-cashing-youth-targeted-gaming-website

https://www.ispionline.it/en/pubblicazione/black-sun-case-radicalization-between-neo-nazism-and-incel-ideology-29063

https://www.the74million.org/article/where-hate-is-normalized-how-white-extremists-use-online-gaming-communities-popular-among-teens-to-recruit-culture-warriors/

https://www.openculture.com/2016/11/umberto-eco-makes-a-list-of-the-14-common-features-of-fascism.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/19/technology/how-anti-asian-activity-online-set-the-stage-for-real-world-violence.html


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