Surge in anti-Asian hate crimes? More bogeyman than fact

In my hometown, Houston, there were three last year. The year before, there were none.

And what about the 3,795 incidents of harassment and discrimination against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders documented by Stop AAPI Hate? The group’s data point is even more useless than the 149% increase figure. Stop AAPI (shorthand for Asian American and Pacific Islander) Hate was formed as the coronavirus pandemic took hold in the U.S. and its data has no baseline for comparison.

But it may be sufficiently frightening to open a line of federal spending directly to Stop AAPI Hate’s member organizations. The group was on Capitol Hill last week to urge lawmakers to address the kind of incidents it tracks and to fund programs supporting the victims.

There have been incidents of ugliness directed toward Asians, like the woman in Houston caught on videotape last spring yelling, “Get out of our country” at the owner of a Vietnamese restaurant. But the motivation for most of these incidents proves much harder to tease out. And “white supremacy” certainly doesn’t appear to be the animating motivation.