By Tenzin Namgyal, Staff Writer
Arthur Martunovich, a 34-year-old Caucasian male, walked into the Seaport Buffet Chinese Restaurant in Brooklyn, New York, on January 15 with a hammer in his hand. At around 5 pm, he attacked three Asian workers in the restaurant: the restaurant’s owner, Keong Ng-Thang, a chef, Fufai Pun, and part-owner Tzu Pun.
Allegedly, Martunovich told a Latino employee that he would only attack Asian workers. Francisco Sales, a dishwasher at the restaurant, reported to the New York Daily News that Martunovich specifically stated that he did not “have a problem with the Hispanics, but with the Chinese.” Subsequently, the three workers later died after being repeatedly hit in the head with the attacker’s weapon of choice. From this, it is evident that the hateful attack was a disgusting and violent act of racism and discrimination.
The Brooklyn district attorney announced that Martunovich is facing a 21-count indictment, including charges of both first-degree and second-degree murder. This incident is significant not only because the lives of innocent men were lost that day but also because hatred towards Asians and people of Asian descent is grossly overlooked in the United States of America. It is overlooked to a point where it is almost normalized, which is directly due to the stereotype that Asians are the “model minority.” Although this title seems like a positive thing, any generalization that is applied to a wide group of people has negative effects. It can cause tension between people of different races, or people may brush off any hate crimes towards Asians solely because they lead seemingly easy lives, free from negative stereotyping or discrimination. But this could not be any farther from the truth.
Asian people still face racism. They are still viewed as outsiders, as different, no matter how valuable the contributions they make to America. They are our doctors, our taxi drivers, our government officials, our teachers, our local business owners, but above all, they are human.
As a country, America needs to learn to embrace differences instead of using it as motivation to commit violent acts of terrorism, and the media needs to stop portraying white men who commit horrendous crimes as “troubled.” Men like Martunovich are terrorists. Only when these hateful, racist, and disgusting acts of terrorism are stopped against people with different skin colors, different eye sizes, different body types, different cultures will America truly live up to its reputation as a land of freedom and fairness.