I am horrified by the shooting at the Sikh temple in Oak Creek. And I am so, so sorry for everyone who has lost a loved one.
I hate that this shooting happened in Wisconsin. Wisconsinites are supposed to be better than this. We are not the kind of people who shoot people while they are worshipping. But apparently we are, because a gunman, a resident of Cudahy, Wis., took firearms into the Oak Creek temple and deliberately massacred six people.
I’d love to call this shooting the actions of a lone, “deranged” person, but I can’t. Six innocent people died yesterday because there is a culture of fear and hate in this country. To be blunt, far too many white people are afraid of non-white people (black/Latino/Asian/native/Muslim/Hindu/Sikh). Admitting fear is weak so we hate instead. White Americans have channeled their phobia of our non-white neighbors into hostility since the Puritans landed at Jamestown.
As I read history, it seems like white Americans (“Americans” being residents of the continental United States) are always afraid the non-white people du jour (Native/African slaves/Texas Mexicans/African-Americans/Asian-Americans/Latinos…) are going to kill them. Or take “their” money/jobs/land. This fear seems to be the cause of so many of our wars: between the colonists and Native Americans, the Mexican-American War, and even the Civil War. It is responsible for the atrocities of slavery and Jim Crow.
Today, we pretend we live in a post-racial society at the same time as we pass immigration laws like SB 1070, pass ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws, and enact new ‘concealed carry’ legislation, all of which are designed to keep the “good guys” safe from the “bad guys”.
You figure out which is which.
We cannot afford to lose any more lives to this war of fear. The six people who died yesterday did not deserve to die. If we assume, and yes, I know the folly of assumption, but if we assume they were killed because the gunman perceived them to be “The Other”, that is, not white. Therefore, not American.
This mentality is wrong but unfortunately, extremely common. How on earth do we change this?
Update: Edited “brown” to read “non-white”. After publishing, I realized I probably didn’t have the right to use that term.