Tuesday, January 23, 2018
BLOGS

THE SURGE IN HATE CRIMES

Adam W Purinton was charged with murder for allegedly shooting Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32, and his friend Alok Madasani, 32, at the Austins Bar & Grill in Olathe, Kansas. Kuchibhotla died in the hospital from his injuries, and Madasani has been released from the hospital. The gunman reportedly yelled go back to your country before opening fire.

 Indian-American lawmakers have out and out condemned this attack as unacceptable, saying this infringes on what America stands for. However, the true litmus test for this administration with regards to Indo-American relations would be whether this would be classified as a hate crime or not. Several lawmakers, such as Congressman Mr. Ro Khanna have expressed their faith in “local and federal law enforcement to justly investigate this shooting as a hate crime”

Why this seems questionable is for two reasons. The first being- racial bias, which, perceivably, continues to be an issue when it comes to law enforcement in the country, with commonplace shootings of African-Americans becoming a controversial, and pertinent topic of conversation across the country. The second reason has to do with the anti-immigrant rhetoric which has been utilized by the current administration during their campaign.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, the leading monitor of hate crime in the US, recorded a surge in hate crimes across the country in the 10 days after Trump was elected. Normally the daily hate crime tally is in single digits. It surged to over 200 the day after his election and a total of 867 occurred in the nine days that followed. Many of the attackers in these incidents actually invoked Trump’s name. The New York Police Department also recorded a similar spike. Its Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said there was a 115% increase in bias crimes right after Trump’s election victory. (Source: Hindustan Times)

Despite evidence of this being a hate crime, with xenophobic sentiments at play, the reason why several Indians are able to still give this incident the benefit of doubt is because it is reportedly a case of mistaken racial identity, however, this claim is yet to be verified.

What is disturbing, however, is the fact that Asian-Americans, specifically Indian-Americans, have one of the highest approval ratings of any minority group in the country, and have often-times been referred to as a “model minority” in terms of the economic productivity they provide to the country. But, as their number nears almost half a million, it isn’t surprising that they have become the new target of a fearful majority.

Whether this was a case of racial bias, mistaken identity or a crime of passion is of little consequence. What is to be noted, however, is the increased acceptance of violence as a means of expressing dissent. And we don’t have to go too far to see how this manifests itself- a metro ride to North Campus can also help you understand this phenomenon.

Lusha Jetley

Student Reporter

February 2017