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Let’s Not Forget That The Wisconsin Shooting Didn’t Just Happen To Sikhs, It Happened To Americans, Too

August 7th, 2012 | 1 comment | Posted by Jen

I’ve been avoiding writing this post because the shooting in Wisconsin at a Sikh temple that left six innocent people dead has made me feel simultaneously furious and powerless, the worst kind of impotency, not only because it’s the second incident of mass gun violence in less than three weeks and lawmakers have simply thrown up their hands on that issue, but because the Wisconsin shooting seems to me to be the convergence of all of the insidious, paranoid, dehumanizing, and Otherizing rhetoric directed at people of color–whether they be undocumented immigrants or Muslims or the President of the United States–that’s been ramping up in our culture for years now.

The Wisconsin shooter has been identified as 40 year-old Army veteran Wade Michael Page, who was killed by police at the scene. Page has been described as a “skinhead,” “the leader of a racist white-power band,” and a “neo-Nazi” with ties to white supremacy. Meanwhile, Page’s victims are Sikh, brown-skinned and members of a peaceful religion that’s often confused with Islam, which has increasingly made them targets of racist hate crimes all over the country since 9/11.

A vandalized Sikh temple in Fresno, CA, 2004

The fact that Sikh Americans have to clarify that they’re members of a peaceful religion and justify their own innocence even when victims of a heinous violent crime speaks volumes about how many Americans view people of color in this country. This is the effect of the “show me your papers” mentality writ large. “Do you belong here” begets “Do you deserve to be here” begets “Do you deserve to be.”

And don’t get me started on how Muslim Americans factor into all of this. If the majority of Continue reading Let’s Not Forget That The Wisconsin Shooting Didn’t Just Happen To Sikhs, It Happened To Americans, Too

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AMAZIAN OF THE WEEK: Dr. Peter Rhee, Surgeon Overseeing The Care Of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords

January 10th, 2011 | 5 comments | Posted by Jen

Name: Dr. Peter Rhee

Hails from: Pennsylvania, originally

Occupation: 24 year Navy Veteran and Military Surgeon, Chief of Trauma at the University Medical Center in Tucson

Let’s step away for a moment from the finger-pointing that’s ensued from all sides since the shooting in Tucson and appreciate this: Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who remains in critical condition after sustaining a gunshot wound to the head, and the others injured at Giffords’ political event who were also admitted to Tucson’s University Medical Center’s trauma unit have, at the very least, been in excellent hands since Saturday’s tragedy. Today, the LA Times profiled Dr. Peter Rhee, chief of trauma at UMC, who is overseeing the care of those injured in the shooting and has become an instantly recognizable face after giving updates on the Congresswoman’s condition to the media over the weekend and describing his medical team as “optimistic” about her recovery.

The LA Times reveals that Rhee, a 24 year Navy veteran, spent five years as the director of the Navy Trauma Training Center at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, where he “typically would treat 30 gunshot wounds a day.” The profile also notes that he served two deployments–one in Afghanistan and one in Iraq–as a military surgeon, treating “hundreds and hundreds” of battlefield injuries. In typical Hardass Asian-style, Rhee describes his time in Arizona, by comparison, thusly:

“Tucson is actually, for a trauma surgeon, very embarrassing and pathetic because violence is almost nonexistent. I know everyone in the country thinks World War III is going on in Arizona, but it’s probably still the nicest place I can think of to live.”

We don’t know about “nicest place,” but today you could call Arizona a fortunate one–for being able to count Dr. Rhee as one of its own.

[LA Times: Giffords' surgeon trained on the battlefield]

[photo by Chris Carlson/The Associated Press via LA Times]

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