Opinion | Searching for Motives in the Atlanta Shootings

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To the Editor:

Re “Racism and Sexism Shadow Many Interactions for Asian-American Women” (news article, March 19):

Two-thirds of the way into this piece, The Times finally offers the beginning of wisdom on the Atlanta shootings: “Very little is known about the motives of the Atlanta gunman.”

Yet the story has already been pervasively framed primarily as a case of anti-Asian violence and of violence against women. Many observations about the disturbing rise of anti-Asian violence over the past year have been adduced, as if these findings explained the Atlanta shooter’s actions. But they cannot be so used.

Anti-Asian animus and misogyny may well have played a role in the gunman’s twisted thinking. But there are good reasons to think that his reported distress about his sexual proclivities and his church’s moral teachings will prove to be an important part of the story as well.

Unfortunately, the race and gender framing of the story is now so reflexive and ingrained that it may never be possible for the country to understand the tragedy in Atlanta.

John Torpey
Montclair, N.J.
The writer is a professor of sociology and history at the CUNY Graduate Center.

To the Editor:

Re “Sex and Guilt Defined Life of a Suspect” (front page, March 19):

Sorting out the factors that contributed to the murders at Atlanta massage parlors, we must not ignore the role likely played by Robert Aaron Long’s religious background. By inculcating in him an extreme opinion that premarital sex is a sin, his religious upbringing made him feel that the normal sexual strivings of any young male make that person a sinner. This caused unbearable guilt when he succumbed to his sexual urges.

There needs to be a more enlightened attitude toward premarital sex among those religious extremists. Sexual relations between two consenting adults should not be regarded as a sin or as a crime. Until this becomes universally accepted, expect to see more conflicted young men like Mr. Long act out their sexual conflicts via violence.

Harvey M. Berman
White Plains, N.Y.
The writer is a psychiatrist.

To the Editor:

Re “Asian-Americans Ask: Why Not Call It Hate?” (front page, March 19):

Quick question: How many people demanding increased investigation and prosecution of anti-Asian hate crimes supported last year’s protests to “defund the police”?

They can’t have it both ways. If you want more enforcement of hate-crime laws, you’ll need more money. It doesn’t grow on trees.

Jonathan Zimmerman
Philadelphia
The writer teaches education and history at the University of Pennsylvania.

Elect the Best Person as Mayor of New York

To the Editor:

Re “Women Running for Mayor Say Cuomo Shows Need for Change” (front page, March 18):

The best person — be it he, she or they — should be elected mayor of this city, which desperately needs to be brought back from its current state.

Frankly, it is insulting to women to promote the idea that one should vote for a woman just because she is a woman. In my view, this city needs someone who comes in with a record of excellent administrative experience, actually getting things done.

If the best person for mayor happens to be a man, then that man should be elected and, moreover, should also be held to an “inclusive style of leadership” and “not rely on bullying.” You can have both.

Ellyn S. Roth
New York

Who Needs Air Travel?

To the Editor:

Re “Do You Really Need to Fly?,” by Farhad Manjoo (column, March 15):

Back in the ’90s I flew to Chicago from New York for a one-day meeting at the O’Hare Hilton. I got off the plane, and walked through the terminal and into the hotel. After the meeting I left the hotel, walked through the terminal and boarded my return flight.

My friends asked me how Chicago was. I told them that I had no idea, as I had never even been outside.

Charlie Perrin
Leesburg, Fla.

To the Editor:

Farhad Manjoo’s points against “gratuitous business travel” apply to academic travel as well.

The Zoom conferences I attended this past year promoted a focus on ideas, bypassing not only tedious air travel but also the tedious pseudo-socializing that often infests in-person academic conferences.

After a session of philosophical discussion, I was delighted to socialize with my cat rather than with someone bent on professional advancement.

Felicia Nimue Ackerman
Providence, R.I.
The writer is a professor of philosophy at Brown University.

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