Asian hate has taken the character of a pandemic in the United States on the level of the coronavirus disease 2019 and its latest victim was a female Filipino diplomat, according to the Philippine Consulate in New York.
Consul General Elmer Cato said the Philippine Embassy official boarded a train when she experienced the harassment.
The incident involving the Filipino consular officer is the 14th involving a member of the Filipino community based on incidents reported to the Consulate this year.
“We join the Asia-American and Pacific Islander Community in condemning these incidents and in expressing our serious concern for the safety of our countrymen and other Asian-Americans in New York City,” Cato said.
“Our colleague reported that as soon as she stepped on the train, she was accosted by an individual who started asking her: ‘Where did you come from?’ and quickly added ‘you should go back to your country.’ He said the ‘f-word’ and despisingly muttered ‘all of you should die,’” Cato said. Cato did not identify the Philippine diplomat.
Cato added that the Philippine Consulate had reported the incident to the New York Police Department’s Anti-Hate Crime Desk.
“We hope that the New York Police Department will look into the issue as there is still a surge in hate crimes in New York,” he said.
Root out hate
A 52-year-old Filipino man was also brutally beaten on a subway station in New York while another incident happened in which a 65-year-old Filipino immigrant walking down a street near Times Square was attacked by a man without provocation. The elder Filipino was suddenly kicked in the stomach.
Cato also called on Filipinos in New York to immediately report to the consulate if they experience hate crimes.
“We call on authorities of New York City to take additional measures to make our kababayans (countrymen) and other Asian-Americans feel safe outside their homes by increasing police presence especially on the subways and addressing the mental health concerns that reportedly affect as many as 40 percent of homeless individuals in the city, a number of whom have also been involved in recent hate crimes against Asian Americans,” he added.
The 52-year old Filipino victim of racist assault who was among those cited by Cato related to New York digital channel WABC that he was punched, repeatedly, in the face at a subway station in Manhattan.
The man who resides in the district of Queens narrated it was about 7:20 a.m. when he got off the train at the 103rd street station on the Upper East Side of the American city.
He then noticed a man in front of him, who looks Asian, being attacked by another person who was yelling “go back to where you came from.”
The victim managed to escape, but the Filipino said the assailant then turned on him and cornered him on the platform and was repeatedly punched in the face.
Again, the suspect yelled “go back to where you came from.”
“It seemed so random and so sudden,” said the victim. “Kinda realized it’s potentially a hate crime because of what the man was shouting and what was said.”
The victim said the suspect appeared relatively young, possibly in his 20s or 30s. He says he didn’t appear homeless, but he did seem to be mentally ill.
Aside from a bloody nose, the victim’s face is covered in bruises. But he says he’s not afraid. He’s not even angry.
The man said he was speaking out to help raise awareness about anti-Asian hate.
“Just a little worried that something so random can happen. It could happen to anyone,” he said.
Silence is complicity
In Washington, President Biden announced a slate of new initiatives to combat anti-Asian prejudice, including publishing more frequent data on hate crime incidents and taking steps to encourage people to report them.
Biden signed a hate crimes law last May aimed at protecting Asian Americans who have suffered a surge in attacks during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Racism, Biden told Asian American politicians and senior members of Congress in a packed room at the White House, is “an ugly poison that has long plagued our nation.”
Reeling off a list of violent incidents, which took place against a backdrop of anti-Chinese sentiment linked to the pandemic, Biden said the Asian-American community had been made a “scapegoat.”
“Too many Asian Americans have been waking up this past year genuinely fearing for their safety, just opening their door and walking down the street,” he said.
Stop AAPI Hate, an activist group, says there were 6,603 hate incidents, mostly verbal insults, in the year from March 2020, but many more were likely not reported to police.
Going unmentioned by Biden was that his predecessor Donald Trump would frequently refer to the coronavirus as “the China virus” and “kung flu,” which are racist-tinged phrases that quickly became part of the right-wing lexicon.
The bill signed by Biden, after rare, overwhelming bipartisan support in Congress, improves access for reporting such crimes and seeks to smoothen procedures for the authorities to respond.
“I mean this from the bottom of my heart: Hate can be given no safe harbor in America,” Biden said. “Silence is complicity. We cannot be complicit.”