Trevor Noah on Atlanta shootings: ‘If that’s not racism ... the word has no meaning’
“The Daily Show” host Trevor Noah has a message for Robert Aaron Long, the man who admitted to fatally shooting eight people — including six women of Asian descent — at Atlanta-area spas and blamed the violence on a “sexual addiction.”
“You killed six Asian people,” the late-night TV host said Wednesday. “ ... If there’s anyone who’s racist, it’s a motherf— who kills six Asian women. Your murders speak louder than your words.”
Noah also criticized Atlanta police for furthering Long’s narrative that the attacks stemmed from a sexual addiction and claiming that the shootings “did not appear to be” motivated by racism.
On Wednesday, Cherokee County Sheriff’s Capt. Jay Baker told reporters that Long had “a really bad day,” prompting many to accuse him of sympathizing with the 21-year-old Georgian, who was charged with four counts of murder and one count of aggravated assault.
The Atlanta man who admitted fatally shooting eight people, including six Asian women, claims race had nothing to do with it — so he’s a liar as well as a killer.
(Baker also allegedly promoted a T-shirt with racist language about China and the coronavirus last year via Facebook with the caption, “Place your order while they last.”)
“‘It was a bad day for him,’” Noah said, quoting Baker’s statements on Long. “For him? ... No, yesterday was a bad day for the people who lost their lives. It’s ... always interesting who police try and find the humanity in.
“But I can guarantee you, if a Black person or brown person went on a mass killing spree in a white neighborhood, not a [chance] would a police officer go on TV and say, ‘Well, he was kind of at the end of his rope, and this is what he did.’”
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic — which former President Trump and others repeatedly referred to via racist terms such as the “China virus” and “kung flu” — 3,795 racially motivated attacks have been committed against Asian Americans, according to a study conducted by Stop AAPI Hate.
For many Asian Americans, the killings further fueled fears about anti-Asian hatred that has mounted over the last year as police and advocacy groups have reported record numbers of hate crimes and harassment.
The report also concluded that the total is likely a fraction of the attacks that occurred, because many were not reported to the group. Among the victims of this week’s shootings in Georgia were Delaina Ashley Yaun, 33, of Acworth; Paul Andre Michels, 54, of Atlanta; Xiaojie Yan, 49, of Kennesaw; and Daoyou Feng, 44, of unknown address.
“Don’t tell me that this thing had nothing to do with race,” Noah continued on “The Daily Show.”
“Even if the shooter says that he thinks it has to do with his sex addiction, you can’t disconnect this violence from the racial stereotypes that people attach to Asian women. This guy blamed a specific race of people for his problems, and then murdered them because of it. If that’s not racism, then the word has no meaning.”
Gemma Chan, Ava DuVernay, Shonda Rhimes, Margaret Cho, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Daniel Dae Kim and more reacted to the killings of Asian women in Atlanta.
Noah is among several entertainment luminaries who have condemned the rise in anti-Asian violence and urge authorities to recognize the Atlanta attacks as a hate crime. Among the many who have spoken out are Gemma Chan, George Takei, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Daniel Dae Kim, Margaret Cho and Barack Obama.
“Why are people so invested in solving the symptoms instead of the cause?” Noah said. “America does this time and time again — a country that wants to fight the symptoms and not the underlying conditions that cause those symptoms to take effect.
“Racism, misogyny, gun violence, mental illness — honestly, this incident might have been all of those things combined. ... America is a rich tapestry of mass shooting motivations. ... Let’s try and pay attention, so that it doesn’t happen again. Because the truth is, we could see this coming.”
Times staff writer Anh Do contributed to this report.
It's a date
Get our L.A. Goes Out newsletter, with the week's best events, to help you explore and experience our city.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.