My heart goes out to the Sikh families whose close ones have fallen victim to the vicious shooting rampage at the Milwaukee Gurudwara. I stand as shocked and concerned as any of you at the implications of what such an attack might imply to the South Asian American community in general and the Sikh American community in particular.
I would say the attack on the Sikhs was no mistaken identity. I doubt if the killer mistook them for Arabs irrespective of what his 9/11 tattoo might indicate. For a white supremacist, a Sikh is as much a threat as any non-White; which brings us to address a critical grassroots issue that has been festering in American society for a long time – the prevalence and spread of White Supremacy.
Given the contemporary realities of an increasingly cosmopolitan demographics of American society, the American Administration and the people as a whole cannot afford to be in denial anymore about the growing number of White supremacist groups in the country. Experts believe there are more than 1,000 hate groups active in the United States. A number of these groups are believed to have become more active since President Barack Obama became the first Black American President. The Gurudwara killer Wade Michael Page allegedly belonged to a supremacist group called Hammerskin Nation.
Studies seem to indicate that these groups are seeing a resurgence and carnages such as seen in Milwaukee will only increase in the coming months and years. The situation assumes criticality given the easy availability of arms and ammunition, a bad economy, joblessness and increasing prominence of immigrant communities.
Nevertheless, while mourning for our Sikh brethren, and justifiably raising the obvious bogey of racism, let’s not forget the valiant police officer who saved several more Sikhs from possible death at the hands of the crazed gunman by gunning him down.
Let us also not forget that, only weeks ago, another crazed gunman had killed several innocent people in a movie theater in Colorado. Those victims were neither Black, Asian, Sikh, Arab, Jew nor White for that matter. They were merely victims.
Folks, I’m reproducing below a copy of President Barack Obama’s proclamation ordering all American flags to be flown at half mast in honor of the Sikh American victims:
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
HONORING THE VICTIMS OF THE TRAGEDY IN OAK CREEK, WISCONSIN
– – – – – – –
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
As a mark of respect for the victims of the senseless acts of violence perpetrated on August 5, 2012, in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, by the authority vested in me as President of the United States by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I hereby order that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset, August 10, 2012. I also direct that the flag shall be flown at half-staff for the same length of time at all United States embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this
sixth day of August, in the year of our Lord two thousand twelve, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-seventh.
# # #