As worshippers prayed and meditated at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin on Sunday morning, a “6-foot-tall bald white man” terrified congregants forcing them to scramble for cover as he opened fire. The gunfire finally ended in a shootout between the gunman and police leaving seven people dead, including the suspect, and three others critically wounded in what police called an act of domestic terrorism.
My thoughts and prayers are with the community that was attacked by this killer. May God grant them comfort in this time of great pain and strength in the days ahead.
As the details of this tragedy unfold and the media rehashes yet another tragedy committed by a madman. I have to admit, that I will be carefully scrutinizing the analysis to see if the media will speak to the elephant in the room. It is no secret that the Sikh community has been victimized in the past in this manner. Sikh community members have been beaten and killed in America since 9/11 and the reason is often due to their appearance. While no one wants to openly discuss this in the national media, the reality is that a culture of intolerance and hatred has been allowed to fester in America toward those who are of or appear to be of Middle Eastern descent. The continued ranting and support by certain media outlets toward Islamophobia is the likely culprit.
When nationally syndicated radio, cable news, and other media continue to feature and host anti-Muslim celebrities, politicians, and other purveyors of hate, who in their propaganda promote that Muslims are inherently evil, are out to takeover America, and many other defamatory things, not to mention members of Congress who have no qualms attacking a loyal American’s service because they are Muslim, unfortunately tragedies like this will occur.
When the average islamophobe is given a likeness to focus their anti-Muslim hatred, it is often that of a male of Middle Eastern descent with a long beard and a kufi or turban. Should anyone be surprised that often when those who finally decide to take the public, nationally televised rantings of politicians and so-called experts hate speech to the next level that their focus would be any group of men fitting that description? If you don’t think the “any Arab will do” theory isn’t real, ask how many Arab Christians in the US have had their churches vandalized because bigots can not tell the difference between Christians and Muslims if they are Arab. The Sikh community yet again bears witness to the results anti-Muslim hate speech.
The real question as we pray for this community and try to come together as a nation in order to heal, is how much longer are we going to tolerate the rhetoric that is so toxic that just being called a Muslim is considered a slur? How long will we allow major media networks who love to promote their large viewership to host and encourage noted bigots who call the Muslim religion “false”, “evil”, and as it was testified in Tennessee when trying to ban a mosque construction, “not a religion at all”?
1+1 unfortunately in this case equals 2. As long as islamophobes are able to operate in Congress, with training to local and national law enforcement, at political fundraisers, and on cable news, with impunity, then we must prepare ourselves for future tragedies as the ticking time bomb of hate continues on. It will only be a matter of time before another maniac decides that it’s time to payback the Muslims for trying to take over America’s government, Constitution, law, schools, and other popular myths, and decides to go after someone because they look Muslim.