Atlanta MurdersThe Toxic Relationship Between White Supremacy & Misogyny
CJ Werleman explores the overlap between the ideologies and how and why they combine with deadly results
Almost everything about the killing of eight people, six of whom were Asian women, at three spa salons in Atlanta, Georgia, speaks to the intersection of white supremacy and misogyny – from the way in which the locations were targeted by the white male suspect to the manner in which the predominantly white, male Cherokee County Police Department responded.
When Captain Jay Baker stood before reporters, he did not use the words “terrorism” or “hate crime” to describe the violence. Instead, he seemed to apologise on behalf of the gunman, by saying that “he had a really bad day” – an odd way to speak of the premediated killing of eight individuals.
He went on to mention 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long’s struggle with “sex addiction” and said that he was a “deeply religious” man.
“He apparently has an issue, what he considers a sex addiction, and sees these locations as something that allows him to go to these places,” Baker added. “It’s a temptation for him that he wanted to eliminate.”
In other words, the attack was not motivated by race, misogyny or religion – because the white male accused said so to a white police officer.
This violence did not occur within a vacuum. Hate crimes against Asian Americans, mostly women, have spiked 150% during the past year, even as overall hate crimes have fallen by 7%, according to the Centre for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University in San Bernardino.
Only in America do white male perpetrators of violence get to control the way in which their crime is spoken about by authorities and the media.
One must wonder whether Baker sympathises with Long, given that the police officer had promoted sales of anti-Asian t-shirts on his Facebook page on 30 March 2020, which echoed former President Donald Trump’s anti-Chinese rhetoric by referring to COVID-19 as an “imported virus from Chy-na,” according to the Daily Beast.
“Place your order while they last,” Baker wrote at the time.
A Deadly ‘Gateway’
But this latest occurrence of gun violence is not about Baker, it is about the perpetrator.
Robert Aaron Long posted on Instagram that “pizza, guns, drums, music, family and God… pretty sums up my life” and there is no getting around the fact that he deliberately targeted sites he knew to be predominately staffed by Asian women and that he had told the authorities he had planned to attack more locations, including a porn star expo in Florida.
Counter-violent-extremism experts have been sounding the alarm for some time on what they call ‘male supremacy terrorism’ – violence they say is “driven by aggrieved male entitlement and a desire to preserve traditional gender roles”.
In a 2018 report titled ‘When Women are the Enemy: The Intersection of Misogyny and White Supremacy‘, the the Anti-Defamation League observed: “There is a robust symbiosis between misogyny and white supremacy; the two ideologies are powerfully intertwined. While not all misogynists are racists, and not every white supremacist is a misogynist, a deep-seated loathing of women acts as a connective tissue between many white supremacists, especially those in the alt-right, and their lesser-known brothers in hate like incels (involuntary celibates), MRAs (Men’s Rights Activists) and PUAs (Pick-Up Artists).
“This cross-pollination means the largely anonymous outrage of the men’s rights arena acts as a bridge to the white supremacist and anti-Semitic ideology of the alt-right. After all, it’s not a huge leap from ‘women’s quest for equal rights threatens my stature as a man’ to ‘minorities’ and women’s quests for equal rights threaten my stature as a white man’.”
According to the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism, violent misogyny lies at the core of the ideology espoused by white supremacist groups, which typically argue that “feminists are a malevolent force controlling society at the expense of men” and that “men are entitled to sexual access to women”.
Misogynist ideologies have been tied to the murder of three women at a fitness centre in Pennsylvania in 2009; the stabbing and shooting of seven men and women in Santa Barbara in 2014; the deaths of 10 women in Toronto, Canada, in 2018 by a vehicle being driven into them; and the killing of three women at a yoga studio in Tallahassee, Florida, that same year.
“Misogyny has the potential to act as a gateway into the white supremacist world,” an expert in counter-radicalisation told the Telegraph in 2018.
It is highly probable that a combination of misogyny and white supremacy also radicalised Robert Aaron Long into taking the lives of six Asian women.