About a week back, an event shook both the United States and India. The news about the WisconsinTemple shooting rapidly spread across the two countries. I wanted to cover this issue today because I felt it needed attention. Also, being personally attached to Gurudwaras(SikhTemple), the gunfire had a deep impact on me.
On August 5, 2012, a mass shooting took place at a Sikh temple in Oak Creak, Wisconsin. This happened during the Sunday services at the Gurudwara when people were busy preparing the community lunch, popularly known as ‘langar’. Six people were shot dead and four others were wounded. The gunman, identified as Wade Michael Page also died in the incident after being shot by a police officer. Media reports claim that it was a hate crime. But, the actual motive is still unknown.
Some people claim that Page had a 9/11 tattoo etched on his body and he has been confirmed as a white supremacist. For a deeper understanding, you must know that White supremacy is the belief, and promotion of the belief, that white people are superior to people of other racial backgrounds. It is still somewhat tough for me to grasp how aggressive a person can get because of certain immaterial beliefs.
In an account of the shooting, I read that the Gurudwara’s President Satwant Singh Kaleka was also killed in the assault. People claimed that Kaleka was a man of honour. ‘If a light bulb in the temple went out at 2 at the night, he would be there by 2:15’, one of them said. The F.B.I agents also asserted that based on the reports of the trails of blood where the bodies lay, it could be said that Kaleka had most likely engaged in a physical confrontation with Page in the lobby which gave many people a chance to escape the danger. They called Kaleka a ‘hero’. I should also mention the great courage of Brian Murphy, a police officer who did everything possible to avoid Page from killing any more people. Murphy was shot in the event about eight or nine times and is said to be in critical condition.
After the shootings, President Barrack Obama offered his condolences, calling the Sikh community “a part of our broader American family”, and ordered flags at federal buildings flown at half-staff until August 10 as a tribute to the victims. Obama called for “soul searching” on how to reduce violence; an indispensable step indeed.
The WisconsinTemple shootings have left most of us distressed because though the killer died; along with him certain heroes and noble men died too, for no reason. People are further talking about how it was a ‘fault’ as the Sikhs might have been mistaken for Muslims. Even Mitt Romney, a U.S Presidential candidate, twice confused the word ‘sheikh’ for ‘Sikh’ while paying tribute to the victims. However, this is an upsetting justification, at least in accord to my beliefs. How can killing a Muslim be any better than killing a Sikh? How can religion decide who deserves to be killed or whose death should be mourned?
I read a post by Tresa Kaur Dusaj, a Sikh woman living in America who talked about her troubled existence in the US especially after 9/11 because in many cases, the Sikhs were attacked considering them people of a different religious group. I sometimes wonder who is responsible for the bias that people face based on the religion they belong to. I do not have a reasonable answer to my question but I do not believe in religion; I believe in humanity. And I wish one day compassion, sympathy and humanity overpower every prejudice- religious, cultural or social. I pray for the victims and their families. God bless them.
Do share your views on the incident. Looking forward to a significant discussion.