Watch Trevor Noah’s powerful speech about the ‘racist’ Atlanta mass shooting

On Wednesday’s “Daily Show,” host Trevor Noah addressed the murders in Georgia where a white man killed eight people, including six Asian women. The suspect, Robert Long, blamed his actions on sex addiction and reportedly told police he wanted to “take out that temptation” by attacking sex workers. Long denied that racism was a motivating factor, but Noah made a convincing argument that even if Long says it wasn’t, it was still racist. 

“What’s been sad about the story is not just the loss of life but all the auxiliary things that have been happening around the story,” Noah said. “Like, one of the first things that’s been the most frustrating for me is seeing the shooter say, ‘Oh, it wasn’t racism, it was sex addiction.’ First of all, f— you, man. You killed six Asian people. Specifically. You went there. If there’s anyone who’s racist, it’s a motherf—er who kills six Asian women. Your murders speak louder than your words.”  

The killings come at a time when racially motivated attacks against Asian people are spiking, fueled by racist paranoia over the origin of COVID-19 in Wuhan, China, and stoked by former president Donald Trump calling it the “China virus.” 

“Six Asian women were killed!” Noah said. “And you know, in a way, what makes it even more painful is that we saw it coming. We see these things happening. People have been warning. People in the Asian community have been tweeting, saying, ‘Please, help us. We’re getting punched in the streets, we’re getting slurs written on our doors, we’re getting people coming up to us saying thanks for COVID, thanks for spoiling the world.’ We’ve seen this happening. And while we’re fighting for it, there are many people who have been like, ‘Oh, stop being so woke and so dramatic. Kung-Flu, hahaha. It’s just a joke.’ Yeah, it’s a joke that has come at one of the most tense times in human history. You knew that something like this could happen. If you just apply your mind, you know that it’s going to happen.”

Noah pinned much of the blame on the American attitude of knowing something bad is going to happen and doing nothing to prevent it — and instead, just letting it happen over and over again. “This guy didn’t go and kill these women by mistake. He knew what he was doing. And it’s so frustrating to see this keep happening in America over and over again. America sees things coming, it knows something is gonna happen, but it does nothing to stop it. But then it’s all-in on saying, ‘Oh, it’s so tragic, who could have predicted this tragedy?’ Anyone who was looking at it could. Why are people so invested in solving the symptoms instead of the cause? America does this time and time again – a country that wants to fight the symptoms and not the underlying conditions that cause those symptoms to take effect. Racism, misogyny, gun violence, and mental illness, and honestly, this incident might have been all of those things combined. Because it doesn’t have to be one thing on its own. America is a rich tapestry of mass shooting motivations.”

Noah then accurately said that even if the shooter denies that his crimes were racially motivated, the crimes cannot be separated from the racial context in which they happened, which is a white man targeting Asian women who worked in massage parlors. 

“But whatever you do, please, don’t tell me that this thing had nothing to do with race,” he argued. “Even if the shooter says that—he thinks it has to do with his sex addiction—you can’t disconnect his violence from the racial stereotypes that people attach to Asian women. This guy blamed a specific race of people for his problems and then murdered them because of it. If that’s not racism then the word has no meaning.”

Noah also denounced how the police “almost try to humanize the shooter more than the people who got shot.” He was referring to Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Jay Baker, who said Long had “a really bad day.” 

“Yesterday was a bad day for him?” Noah said. “No, yesterday was a bad day for the people who lost their lives. It’s always interesting who police try and find the humanity in. Like I can guarantee you, if a Black person or brown person went on a mass killing spree in a white neighborhood,” no police officer would go on TV and say something sympathetic like Baker did. “They barely have patience for Black protestors who are not killing anybody.” 

Noah closed by encouraging viewers to donate to Stop AAPI Hate, a group doing work to combat anti-Asian racism. 

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