This past Tuesday evening, an individual murdered eight people in three Atlanta area “spas” (i.e. massage parlors). Six of the eight were Asian women.

A suspect, a 21 year old white man, was promptly arrested, and at this juncture it appears pretty certain that the suspect is indeed the killer.

In a sane time, we’d wait for investigators to do their thing and provide details, including potential motives, as they themselves unearth them.

This isn’t a sane time. So, rather than wait, people who knew nothing more than the facts I just delineated rushed their opinions and conclusions out for the world to see. The attacks began at 5 PM Eastern time. By 9:30 PM Pacific time, the mayor and chief of police of Seattle jointly declared that the murders were racially motivated.

They weren’t the only ones. While others didn’t overtly declare, the speculation was immediately raised by many news sources, and at least one advocacy group seized the opportunity to speak against “AAPI Hate” (AAPI = Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders). The narrative of “hate crime” ran rampant before a single motive-fact was released.

It’s no surprise that an issue-advocacy group would view this event through its singular filter, but that filter has become a cultural norm rather than a niche behavior. All around us, people assess every aspect of life through the narrow, tunnel-vision aperture of identity politics, a worldview that not only makes no allowance for individual thought, it actively rejects those who “stray” from what their identities require them to think and believe. There’s great irony in this, given that these people loudly denounce anything that carries even a whiff of racial profiling. So, white man shoots up Asian massage parlors in the time of the “China Virus” or “Wu Flu,” and it’s gotta be about anti-Asian bigotry.

While this possibility is absolutely among those to be considered, vocalizing it as the truth, or even as the likelihood, mere hours after the event occurred, is a risk. If it turns out that the killer was not motivated by racial animus, then a “cried wolf” pall gets cast across the entire landscape, and the real instances of bigotry-based anti-Asian violence risk getting tainted by association. Declaring it also gives the actual racists something to crow about, and possibly look to mimic, and even if the race angle ends up wholly refuted, there’ll be many who will insist that’s the real story, simply because it’s the first one they saw. People would much rather be consistent than correct.

Sadly, this rush to judgment by the mandarins of “Woketopistan,” as a friend dubbed it, is the expected and inevitable result of the press’s and wokesters’ fixation on identity politics. Call it “identithink:” the tendency to process all events through a filter that reduces individuals to their demographic markers, to immediately apply preferred labels, tags, and neologisms, and to reject individual thinking, motives, behaviors, and tendencies that deviate from the woke-book. A person of “oppressor” identities murders persons of “oppressed” identities? Obviously, it’s about bigotries.

Unless it isn’t. The early reports from law enforcement – and, again, they’re preliminary and on-going – suggest otherwise. The shooter is reported to be a sex addict who had a “really bad day.”

As Capt. Jay Baker of the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office offered:

He has an issue that he considers a sex addiction and sees these locations as something that allows him to go to these places. It’s a temptation for him that he wanted to eliminate … He was pretty much fed up and kind of at the end of his rope, and yesterday was a really bad day for him, and this is what he did.

This introduces other potential angles into the motivation, but expecting public figures to “wait and see” what reality emerges, after the first leap to finger-point got undercut, is pointless. A state-level Representative promptly surmised that the shootings appear to be at the “intersection of gender-based violence, misogyny and xenophobia,” no matter that the evidence so far doesn’t support such “woke” categorization.

It may yet ultimately turn out that the Atlanta spa shooter was motivated by racial animus, or by broad-brush misogyny. Nevertheless, there are no bonus points for being first to declare an uninformed suspicion as ‘fact,’ and if that declaration is wrong, one is left in the unenviable position of having to either mea culpa, twist up some pretzel logic to defend the conclusion-jump (as in a tautological “all crimes against Asian women are xenophobic and misogynistic” definition – that offers absolutely no utility), or hide one’s face and hope it all goes away. It also, as I already noted, corrupts efforts to address actual bigotry.

I suspect, based on this info and on a bit drawn from his Instagram account (“Pizza, guns, drums, music, family, and God. This pretty much sums up my life. It’s a pretty good life.”) that we’ll also start seeing vilification of religiosity next – some sort of “if he weren’t a Bible thumper, he’d not have felt this urge to murder” hand-waving.

That and gun control. Obama leapt right away to tweeting about “commonsense gun safety laws,” despite his likely knowing as much as I do about how the shooter got his guns (or even what guns he used), i.e nothing at all (t’s now being reported that a 9mm handgun was recovered, and that the shooter apparently bought a gun that day, but this still doesn’t tell us much of utility). That, after he jumped on the “hate-crime” bandwagon (“the identity of the victims underscores an alarming rise in anti-Asian violence that must end”) even as he acknowledged that “the shooter’s motive is not yet clear.”

Identithink, wrought large by a high-priest of Woketopistan. I’m hardly surprised. Bitterly clinging to a narrative is something he does well.

The peril therein lies in missing the reality of an event. The shooter had a motive or motives. However, if we shoehorn this shooter’s actions into preferred narratives that don’t align with those motives, whatever policy results from that shoehorning won’t do anything to address the causes of this event. Worse, identithink is very useful for politicians with agenda hobby-horses. They can seize upon an atrocity and the concomitant conclusion-applying to push pet policies that faced resistance prior to the event.

It’s a good bet that we’ll witness yet again what Penn Jillette has decried: “Every time something really bad happens, people cry out for safety, and the government answers by taking rights away from good people.”

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.

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