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Let’s Not Forget That The Wisconsin Shooting Didn’t Just Happen To Sikhs, It Happened To Americans, Too
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.
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
Filed under: Domestic Terrorism, Gun Control, Gun Violence, Hate Crimes, Hate Crimes Against Sikhs, Hate Speech, Indian-Americans, Mass Shootings, Milwaukee Wisconsin, Muslim Americans, Muslims, Never American Enough, Otherizing, Otherness, Perpetual Foreigners, Prejudice, Racist Hate Crimes, Religions, Sikh Americans, Sikh Temple of Wisconsin, Sikh Temple Shooting, Sikhism, Sikhs in the U.S., Wade Michael Page, Wisconsin
In December 2007, Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno, a 32 year-old Malaysian Muslim woman, was at a hotel bar in the beach town of Cherating and had a beer.
She was busted by Islamic enforcement officers, because Malaysia has a dual law system, and Muslims are subject to not only federal law but to sharia (syariah), or Islamic religious law, and according to the latter, it’s illegal to drink. She was then handed a caning sentence by the religious court last month.
After both an international and domestic outcry over the severity of this punishment–Malaysia wants to present itself as a “moderate” Islamic nation and Kartika would be the first woman to be caned under sharia law–the religious court decided to halt the caning and review their decision. But Monday, an appeals panel upheld the decision, and the caning of the married mother of two will be carried out after Ramadan.
One fascinating aspect of this legal case is Kartika’s decision not to appeal her sentence. Malaysia’s own Prime Minister, Najib Razak, urged her to appeal back in August, presumably to avoid international embarrassment. But Kartika refused. On what grounds depends on what source you believe.
“I feel ashamed of myself for showing disrespect to my own religion. I want to respect (the court’s) decision and go through the punishment…I respect the law and Islam. Even before the sentence was passed in court, I had already made up my mind to accept the punishment and go through the ordeal,” she said.
International news agency AFP had a radically different spin on the matter, however:
Kartika, a part-time model and mother-of-two, has stared down religious authorities by refusing to appeal against her sentence, and challenging them to cane her in public.
So what cause is Kartika a martyr for (in the colloquial and not the crazazy extremist sense)? Islam or human rights? It’s hard to say, but one thing’s for sure–accepting being caned for drinking a beer on whatever grounds is some Hardass Asian shit right there.
So, here’s the deal. There are these 17 Uighurs (or Uyghurs, pronounced “wee-grr”), right? They’re part of a Muslim minority group who come from the far-western province of Xinjiang, China. And they’ve been detained at Guantanamo for the last 6 years after getting rounded up in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Over the course of that time, it’s been determined that they aren’t enemy combatants–enemies of the U.S. or our allies–nor is there significant evidence demonstrating that they’re any kind of threat, nor do they have ties to al Qaeda. They have been cleared for release and are free to go. But if they return home to China, they’ll likely be tortured and persecuted. Like Tibetans, Uighurs have suffered plenty of human rights-abuses at the hands of the Chinese government but received far less attention for them, probably because they believe in a religion that scares people instead of one that, say, attracts a beautiful Hollywood following. While the 17 Uighurs have petitioned for asylum in the U.S., they’ve been denied twice, most recently by Obama.
Ever the dickish troll, Newt Gingrich has said that the Uighurs are not an “American problem,” despite the fact that they have been unlawfully detained by our government for the last 6 years. So whose problem are they? And uihere in the uiorld uiill the Uighurs go now?
…somebody shared this necessary, obvious statement with
our big, dumb, xenophobic, pretty-damn-racist country America:
“It is permitted to be said, such things as, ‘Well you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim.” Well the correct answer is that he is not a Muslim, he’s a Christian. He’s always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being Muslim in this country? The answer’s no, that’s not America. Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be President?”
There are things that Powell has done that I will never be happy about, but I will always be grateful he had the balls to finally stand up and say this.