Casualties of Divide and Conquer

As I write, we know that the president of the Sikh temple was shot, and a Granthi of the Temple was shot and killed.  Police officials are investigating this as a domestic terrorist act.

At this time, we don’t have the name of the Sikh Temple shooter.  Witnesses describe him as a man in his 30’s, wearing a white t-shirt and black pants, and with a 9/11 tattoo.

When this tragedy first broke, I had the same gut wrench that came with the news of the Aurora theatre shooting, on July 20 — just several weeks ago.   In both cases, people died.  For the people who survived, there will be weeks, months and years of recovery from the physical wounds and the trauma that goes with this sort of violence.  When this story is no longer on the front pages, there will be people still waking in the middle of the night in a cold sweat from a nightly reliving of the events in that temple.  There will be people suffering from survivors remorse and there will be people worrying about how they’re going to pay the medical bills.

Meanwhile, the hysterical right wing will spin, spin, spin on the evils of “Obamacare”; or transparency when it comes to Romney’s tax returns or policies;  praising the glory of Ayn Rand’s version of a great society where you people know your place, expressing infinite gratitude for the crumbs your overlords send your way.

Perhaps we’ll remember the numbers, if not the people who die as a result of gun violence in America every year.  Maybe the NRA will wait a respectable period before they get back on the rhetorical hate wagon to preach about THEIR right to have their guns, and how ANY regulation of guns is a violation of the second amendment, not withstanding opinions expressed by conservative Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito  or Michael Gerson,   a former speechwriter for George W. Bush.

I hope that with yet another round of point/counterpoint on gun control, that we’ll also have room to have an open discussion about where hate propaganda has gotten us. I hope that we can get past the guns don’t kill people, people kill people chanting for a serious discussion about how hate kills people.

For those who buy into the Islamophobic strain of hate propaganda, the violent rhetoric directed at Muslims will continue.  They’ll continue to focus their energies on the need to keep Sharia law out of America.  For at least some, it won’t matter that Sikhs are not the same as Muslims.  They “look the same”, meaning they aren’t white.  They practice some sort of religion that isn’t Christian.  They both must be part of the Taliban, or Al Quaeda or something that’s anti- American. Those who seek to wear their patriotism as a badge of righteousness will forget that “they” are Americans.

As a nation, we are so wrapped up in our own lives and belief systems, that the notion of exploring other ideas seems like a burden on our time.  It’s so much simpler to rely on the rantings of a Rush Limbaugh, or someone equally as ignorant, than it is to exercise some intellectual curiosity.  It’s also faster, so that we can get back to our daily activities, many of which I’ll grant entail responsibilities to family and work.

Yet, the lack of knowledge won’t stop too many of us from drawing conclusions, passing judgments, relying on the singular isolated experience that went with meeting one of “them” to extrapolate “facts” about all of “them.”  I wonder if those who think of Sikhs as the same as Islam, know even the most basic things about Islam or the Sikhism.   I wonder how many of the holier than thou are aware that Sikhism was born in  Punjab?  How many of these great thinkers are aware that the people who lead their prayers are called Granthi or Bhaji?  For that matter how many of us were aware that Sikhism doesn’t have formally recognized leaders bestowing their wisdom on all things beyond religion via the pulpit?

So here we are, describing this shooting is as “senseless” and perhaps wondering “why.” Of course it’s senseless!  When is mass murder anything but senseless? The why is obvious when you consider the deliberate and calculated hate mongering directed at “you people”, aka America’s 99%.

While complaining about the catastrophic state of the economy, Republican law makers *cough* Michele Bachmann, continue to bang the drum of divide and conquer with their call to investigate Huma Abedin  or Alan West’s desire to spend resources on investigating Democratic members of congress. To be sure, there are some individuals, like John McCain who drew the line between ‘good old fashioned, patriotic ” hate rhetoric and the sort that should land you in a rubber room.

While “you people” are digesting the tragedy in Oak Creek, wondering what it takes to have a serious discussion about common sense gun regulation or press the mute button on hate rhetoric, where is Michele Bachmann?  As of this writing, she has been uncharacteristically silent. Where is her condemnation of this shooting? Ah right, the shooting happened on Sunday.  Everyone knows that the best photo ops are held during the week.

Image from sikhtoons.com

12 Replies to “Casualties of Divide and Conquer”

  1. The republican hate machine keeps turning. Republicans claim to be Christian. The bible states many that say Jesus is Lord will not see the kindom of God. Those that hate!!

  2. The media reports I heard on “the tellie” were quick to point out that they didn’t have evidence that this was a “hate crime”. Really? A white, bald guy with a gun just walks up to the door of a filled mostly with people who have “darker” skin, are mostly “immigrants” 1/2 wearing turbans. 1/2 wearing sari and, this guy was just there for “show” or had a personal “grudge” against someone he personally knew inside…and he knew, of course, these people would be all sitting on the floor, men on one side, women on the other*, kids everywhere, barefoot as a that is how you worship in a Sikh temple…so, he knew they couldn’t run from his gun fire…

    What hate crime? This was just something that “happened” randomly because guns don’t kill, right?

    *Sikhs can actually sit where ever they want; it’s just “tradition” (old habit) and if a woman wants to sit with her husband, that’s OK, god isn’t “insulted” nor are any of the congregants…and, the Granthi could have just as easily been a woman

  3. Singh, I am truly sorry for what happened. It is equally a tragedy if any of us knew the victims or not, but for your sake I hope you did not.

  4. The shooter has been identifed as Wade Michael Page, 41, last on duty at Fort Bragg. He indeed was heavily tattooed. He may have been in an abusive relationship with a woman, who terminated it. He appears to ft a certain profile.

  5. I served at Ft. Bragg so I’m hoping you’re not lumping all veterans together. I believe in tolerance for all religions and wish more people felt the same. My heart goes out to those who are suffering for the actions of this one man.

  6. Not to worry…both of my little darlings were with the 82nd, got out, put tats on their “visible” parts knowing they could not be pulled back under the “tat rule”; of course they gamed “the system” so that they could not be pulled by another “stop gap” campaign (Bush held service members “hostage” to their post after their contract of enlistment was over…that’s over and soldiers were paid back due to a law suit).

    …with that said, the real “spirit” of the military “tat rule” was to keep out the skin-heads, neo-nazi, hard core gang members. This guy sounds as if he was weeded out…some investigator will have to piece his life together in order to give us a better picture of who he was…until then, it’s all speculation…tats or no tats.

  7. Yeah, this is tough. I am no longer a practicing Sikh, but that means little to nothing when ya’ have it in your bones, so to speak…my ears still “pull back” at the scent of danger toward my funk-soul-brothers-sisters-in-the-divine…very loving souls are having their old wounds re-opened by this tragedy…yep, this is tough…thanks.

    (F*ck Romney, Chick-A-fil and the rest of the toads today…)

  8. I don’t think that’s an issue. I probably have as much reason as anyone could to have issues with veterans (some relatives – uber conservative, are veterans and picked up a lot of their stuff while in the military, and we’ve been harmed by vets whose attitudes were learned in the military), but some of my friends and acquaintances served in the military and are quite liberal today.

    The issue is what does he believe and what his motivations are. Tattoos could be an indication, but there HAVE been skinheads who renounced racism and began fighting against the racists, and many other people get tattoos for many reasons. I know that dominionists and racists have been trying to infiltrate the military to get training and possible access to weapons not available to the general population… if that weren’t a fact, the MRFF wouldn’t exist (it wouldn’t be needed) and the SPLC would have done research on skinheads in the military (ditto for MRFF).

    I suspect when it’s all said and done, the guy was a racist bigot of some sort… either dominionist “Good Christian” or connected in some way to a hate group (maybe both).

  9. Funny how the groups that have been demonized usually turn out to be the decent people, and those who are lauded as examples turn out to be monsters – and that is a certainty when it comes to dominionists and right-wing conservatives.

    I know that the Sikhs have been lumped in with the Muslims. Sadly, I don’t know many Sikhs IRL, but I do know some Muslims and would rather be around them than any “Good Christian” – even if I have issues with some of their beliefs (which for the mainstream ones I know – I don’t). I really prefer their attitudes – for instance, they assume equality between people instead of superiority which falls right in with my own beliefs.

    I wish I could pass on to the Sikh community (especially in Oak Creek) my condolences as well as to you (because of your connection to them). We do have an idea of what the community is going through, after all.

  10. It’s because they worship the Bible as the Word of God and not Christ who is living and everlasting. That is idolatry.

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