a response to the awful Atlanta shooting

Let’s begin with an inconvenient question: what narrative are we trying to promote?

One of the zillion things I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older is that we tend to promote narratives we most relate to. The filter through which we see the world is the narrative we oft promote. It doesn’t mean we’re insensitive nor deceitful. We may not be intentionally attempting to mislead another, but also true is that our perspective might not be accurate.

I’ve struggled this week as we’ve retold and relayed the recent Atlanta spa shooting. How anyone ever intentionally takes the life of the innocent is something I will never understand. Sorry. I just don’t get it. It fits somewhere under the umbrella definition of evil for me.

Let me also add that this most recent violence hurts my heart deeply for my friends of Asian American Pacific Islander descent whose hearts are rattled and who continue to wrestle with fear in response to this and other heinous acts. I hate that. I wish no one’s heart to be rattled. God be with you. Always. As I get older, I believe such is the only sustainable comfort, especially in the face of evil… especially when the world makes zero sense.

What I find grossly confusing in response to this week’s shooting, no less, is how we respond to what actually happened.

Here’s the inconvenient, uncomfortable bottom line…

We don’t know exactly why this happened. Not now, at least.

I wish we did. But we don’t know why…

We don’t know why 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long killed eight people and injured another. We don’t know why he opened fire at Young’s Asian Massage in Acworth, Georgia on Tuesday evening, nor why he drove another 30 miles into Atlanta and killed four more at Gold Spa and Aromatherapy Spa. 

Long was responsible for killing six Asian women, a white woman, and a white man, and for wounding a Hispanic man as well.

Long told authorities his motive was based on the demons associated with an admitted sex addiction. Cherokee County Sheriff Frank Reynolds acknowledged the claimed “sexual addiction” and that the suspect “may have frequented some of these places in the past.” He also said it was too early in the investigation to say whether we were dealing with a hate crime. But what those involved in the investigation uncovered did not halt narratives from being pushed from multiple news outlets, politicians, pundits, and social media seemingly instantaneously… regardless of what was actually and factually known.

To be clear, law enforcement did not rule out a racist motivation. They also did not conclude that a racist motivation existed. They did not have such evidence (and reportedly still do not at the time of this posting).

And yet…

Multiple “new sources” declared the violence to be a hate crime. The evidence has not yet substantiated the declaration, but such was still the way some subjective news sources reported the awful attacks. Consider the reporting by CNN, for example; after their initial headline that “white supremacy and hate are haunting Asian Americans,” the lead sentence read, “It’s immaterial whether the accused killer in the Atlanta spa shootings admits to a racist motivation.”

Immaterial. That was reported as “news.” Let me go out on a semi-fragile but always respectful limb and suggest such equates more to a narrative being pushed. We’re not suggesting said news is an intentional attempt to mislead. But what is true is that said narrative might not be accurate. Hence, it’s not news.

Friends, as said, the Intramuralist hates the existence of evil and the killing of the innocent. I will also say, the facts matter. If this was an incident based on ethnicity, how awful. If this was an incident based on sexual addiction or mental health, how equally awful. All should be dealt with and reported accurately.

So let’s support our Asian American Pacific Islander community. 

Let’s support all people and zero evil. 

Let’s also support promoting the facts.