Earlier this month I wrote about a brutal attack in San Francisco that really shocked people around the country. An 84-year-old man named Vicha Ratanapakdee, an immigrant from Thailand who was nearly blind, was knocked to the ground by a 19-year-old man later identified as Antoine Watson. The unprovoked attack was caught on video.
— Evan Sernoffsky (@EvanSernoffsky) February 1, 2021
Ratanapakdee was taken to a hospital with a head injury and later died. His family described what happened to him as a hate crime because they believed he was targeted because of his race. Antoine Watson was captured and charged with murder and elder abuse. He has pleaded not guilty.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t the only attack like this that has happened recently. In Oakland’s Chinatown there was a similar unprovoked attack on a 91-year-old man who was walking down the street in broad daylight when he was pushed face-first into the pavement.
⚠️ WARNING: this video is hard to watch. Another shocking attack in Oakland’s Chinatown. 8th and Harrison Streets. Outside the Asian Resource Center.
— Dion Lim (@DionLimTV) February 4, 2021
Police believe the same man when on to attack two other elderly people the same day. Fortunately, the victims in these incidents survived. Police eventually arrested 28-year-old Yahya Muslim and charged him with assault, inflicting great bodily injury and committing a crime against an elderly person.
And in New York the same week, a 61-year-old Filipino American named Noel Quintana had his face slashed with a boxcutter. Quintana told People he thought the attack was premeditated and agreed it was possible he was targeted because he was Asian (though he said he really didn’t want to think about that).
In response to all of these violent, senseless attacks on Asian people, activists in New York organized a rally against white nationalism. Here’s the flyer for the event featuring the image of Vicha Ratanapakdee: “Unite against white nationalism.”
There’s a “March Against White Nationalism” today in NYC re recent violence against Asians, and this is the social image promoting it. Uhh is there a shred of evidence that 84 year old Vicha Ratanapakdee was killed by “white nationalism”? https://t.co/rsFW2qZQwx pic.twitter.com/XE3VMv0Uy1
— Lee Fang (@lhfang) February 20, 2021
The rally happened Saturday:
The massive crowd is just turned west on 29th Street from Madison Ave. pic.twitter.com/3G7TFEFptP
— NYC Protest Updates (@protest_nyc) February 20, 2021
There’s just one problem with this. All of the attackers involved in these three, high profile attacks were black men. Here’s a photo of Antoine Watson, the man charged with killing Vicha Ratanapakdee:
The deadly assault of an elderly Asian American man in San Francisco is being blamed on white nationalism by left-wing activists. Antoine Watson, the suspect arrested over the homicide, is black. pic.twitter.com/HcqG79kQYL
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) February 22, 2021
Here’s a mugshot of Yahya Muslim, the man who allegedly attacked the 91-year-old man in Oakland’s Chinatown:
And here’s the NYPD Crime Stoppers release about the man who is believed responsible for the attack on Noel Quintana:
🚨WANTED for an ASSAULT:On 2/3/21 at approx.8:27 AM,on a Manhattan bound “L” 🚂 The suspect slashed a 61 year old male victim on the right cheek with a box cutter causing physical injuries.Any info call or DM NYPDTips at 800-577-TIPS.Reward up to $2,500. @NYPDDetectives @NYPDShea pic.twitter.com/Uk9f8rVMzt
— NYPD Crime Stoppers (@NYPDTips) February 4, 2021
Given that all the men involved in these high-profile attacks are black, why are activists holding a rally against white nationalism? If these three attacks had been carried out by members of a known white nationalist group, then yes I could see the point. But that’s not what happened here obviously.
So far as I know there’s no connection between these three incidents. There’s no indication the attackers knew each other or that these attacks were motivated by the same thing. We don’t even know what the motives were in each case. It may turn out that race wasn’t a factor in some or all of these attacks. I don’t know that’s the case but based on the lack of hate crimes charges thus far it seems possible.
But for the left, the concept of white supremacy and white nationalism are so fundamental to their worldview that everything must be traced back to it somehow, even if none of the facts really fit. And in this case they just don’t fit and people were clearly aware of that uncomfortable truth. In fact, some on the left were critical of an Asian actor for offering a reward for information on one of the attackers because the attacker appeared to be black. Here was the offer of the reward:
The skyrocketing number of hate crimes against Asian Americans continues to grow, despite our repeated pleas for help. The crimes ignored and even excused. Remember Vincent Chin. #EnoughisEnough. @danielwuyanzu & I are offering a $25,000 reward.. https://t.co/ImXYhzNuRH
— Daniel Dae Kim (@danieldaekim) February 5, 2021
And here’s the pushback:
Listen, if you don't understand why it's problematic to offer 25k for information about a Black man in Oakland, I need you to stay off all the goddamned panels.
— Kim Tran (@but_im_kim_tran) February 7, 2021
This is the moment we need to ask ourselves, to what end? If it was for an accountability process, okay, but I highly doubt that. Lastly, this looks a lot like a bounty on a Black person funded by Asian American celebrities. I have major, major doubts.
— Kim Tran (@but_im_kim_tran) February 7, 2021
To what end? How about putting a violent man attacking elderly people in jail where he can’t hurt anyone else.
For some on the fringe left, offering a reward for a brutal, unprovoked attack on an elderly Asian man may itself be wrong if the person you’re trying to arrest is black. Meanwhile, it makes perfect sense to hold a rally against white nationalism in response to attacks like this. If that all makes sense to you then you are very woke indeed.