Monday, August 06, 2012

He's in the apple pie, too.

What happens now is obvious. Sikhs are one variety of otherness, so Wade Michael Page must also be reduced to his otherness: white supremacist, skinhead rock band, tattoos, "less than honorable discharge," a drunk, & of  course "evil." As if one has to be all those things to hate Sikhs. There you have it: lone crazy white male hating men wearing turbans & their families. Now we can all feel exonerated. Got news for you. The hatred isn't aberrant in America. Americans killing people we hate isn't unusual either. We had a guy firebombing synagogues in Jersey last year. Only reason he did it at night when the buildings were empty was he didn't want to be caught. They can't stamp "evil" on Page's forehead & make me believe he's truly exceptional. He's in the apple pie, too.
If you ask someone about their unfamiliar religion, because you're curious, they're usually glad to explain it to you, at least all the surface features;  the basic history, style of worship, traditions & symbolism. I was fortunate to have worked with a Sikh woman at Pearl arts supply store. The store was owned by an Indian-American. This woman worked mainly to provide health insurance for her husband, a New York City taxi driver, & her family. Much of the day she sat at a table in the stockroom pricing doo dads for the craft dept. One day I asked about the necklace she always wore & she began telling me about Sikhism. It was pretty elementary & a lot of it was the dailyness of an observant Sikh wife & mother & her family.  But it was enough to  demystify Sikhism. She did mention I was welcome to attend a service, but I could even skip the service  & come  for the community meal afterward (I've received the same invitation from Unitarian-Universalists, Reformed Jews, & Bhakti Hindus) .   If you have a problem with religious people  that want you to be like them, you won't have any problem with Sikhs. Their problem - & the tragedy in their history - is that others try to stop them from being Sikhs. Even in Wisconsin.  Bad as that attack was, they've suffered so much worse. Horrifying persecution. Centuries of it.   Page was a stupid man. Page will disappear into the "mists of  history," but Sikhs will never forget those six people he murdered.
I have read so many comments on NJ.Com, the Star-Ledger website, denigrating Sikhs  Hindus, Muslims, all these haters need is a phony  name to hide behind &  it all comes out of them. Then of course there's the so-called  "dog-whistles," the code words of bigotry Republican candidates must master in order to speak to the "base." Otherwise they'd never make it through the primaries.

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