Stephen Colbert condemned violence against Asian-Americans and addressed the mass shootings in Georgia on Wednesday’s “The Late Show.” And he used to opportunity to specifically call into question the idea the shooter isn’t a racist.
On Tuesday, police say Robert Aaron Long killed eight people, including six Asian women at three massage parlors in the Atlanta area, before being arrested Tuesday night. According to The Chosun Ilbo, South Korea’s leading newspaper, witnesses say Long shouted “I’m going to kill all the Asians” at one of the locations. But in a press conference Wednesday, Capt. Jay Baker of Georgia’s Cherokee County Sheriff’s office downplayed the possibility of racist intent, instead presenting Long’s claims that he isn’t racist and that he was attempting to “take out that temptation (for) sexual addiction issues” as factual.
Baker also faced criticism for expressing apparent sympathy for Long, for instance when he said “yesterday was a really bad day for (Long) and this is what he did,” and for the revelation that he has used his personal Facebook page to share racist, anti-Asian merchandise with friends.
In his remarks, Colbert questioned Baker’s framing and specifically asked why anyone should believe Long’s claims not to be racist.
“Over the centuries, Americans have come to this country from all over the world,” Colbert said. “One group of Americans too often threatened by racism is Asian Americans. The most recent horrifying example of that threat just played out tragically, in Atlanta, where eight people, including six Asian women were killed. Then I see on the TV that police are reporting with the guy who admits he did it says it had nothing to do with race. But why should we believe him? He’s a murderer. The fact is six Asian women are dead at a time when that community is already living under a cloud of fear.”
“In moments like this, I never know what to say other than that our hearts go out to everyone struck by this terrible tragedy
because they don’t have any answers, not immediately,” Colbert continued. “The only answer that comes to mind is a simple but strangely difficult one these days. And that’s not to hate each other, to recognize our common humanity, to acknowledge that we’re a nation of immigrants who might believe different things, who might not look the same, but we’re all Americans. We share a common belief that all men are created equal. And there’s that belief itself that makes people want to come here.”
The “cloud of fear” Colbert refers to is the rise in hate crimes against Asian-Americans since the COVID-19 pandemic began, stoked in part by former president Trump’s assertion that the coronavirus was in fact a “China virus,” a term he still uses frequently in media appearances.
Watch Colbert’s full remarks from tonight’s “Late Show”below:
“Americans have come to this country from all over the world. And one group of Americans too often threatened by racism is Asian-Americans.” pic.twitter.com/VUKLzcFufd
— A Late Show (@colbertlateshow) March 18, 2021