Another shooting already? Yesterday’s attack at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin is simultaneous less and more scary that the “Joker attack” in the Colorado movie theater. The temple is a less universal venue, one where few of us have frequented. But the implication of a U.S. Army-trained, known white supremacist attacking a distinct ethnic group is less an act of random craziness than it is a political act. Whether the shooter turns out to be deranged or not, he’s a long-term member of what we might call the right-wing hate community and his actions will be seen in that relationship.
A few links to try to make sense of this. The first is the Sikhism page on my wife’s course website. She’s paid to teach world religions at the county community college, but in reality she teaches respect, understanding, and tolerance. She called up the Sikh coalition this morning to offer an apology. I’m proud of her work. Don’t miss the first embedded video, a humorous set of interviews with Sikhs about their turbans.My sympathies go out to all the Sikhs, both the immediate victims of yesterday’s violence and all those who will now worry when a white male wirh tattoos and a shaved head approaches.
The second is a dusted-off link to a 1997 essay that askswhy the U.S seems to train all of the terrorists?” While not every jihadist or homegrown mass-murdering nutjob has a U.S. military connection, it’s a lot more common than a random distribution would predict.
Finally, one could argue that modern America’s recipe of militarism and mass murder started sixty-seven years ago today. The world’s first (and so far only) nuclear war began when the U.S. dropped a single atomic bomb on a city, incinerating and lethally poisoning over 100,000 citizens. Many activists have argued (convincingly in my opinion) that the deaths were unneccessary and that the Truman administration knew the Japanese were near surrender. Whatever the stated or secret motives, the U.S. forever changed the calculus of it’s self image as simple, righteous nation (unearned after centuries of slavery and the genocide of America’s first inhabitants, but that’s another tale). Friends Journal has assembled recent archives on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. May we never forget.
Bonus: another Sikh video: