Open Thread: The Oak Creek Shooting

From the Journal Sentinel. Photo by Kyle Grillot.

Yet another tragedy this year, spurred on by yet another lone gunman with an agenda. This time, the shooter murdered six Sikhs in their house of worship. The New York Times reports:

In an attack that the police said they were treating as “a domestic terrorist-type incident,” the gunman stalked through the temple around 10:30 a.m. Congregants ran for shelter and barricaded themselves in bathrooms and prayer halls, where they made desperate phone calls and sent anguished texts pleading for help as confusion and fear took hold. Witnesses described a scene of chaos and carnage.

Here’s the statement from the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund:

On Sunday, a horrific mass shooting took place at the Sikh gurudwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, as members of the Sikh community were preparing for a peaceful religious gathering. It has been reported that a white male killed six people, and he was later killed himself after exchanging fire with a police officer.

AALDEF condemns this blatant act of terrorism against innocent people at a house of worship, and our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families, the three continuing to fight for their lives in critical condition, and the entire Sikh community in Oak Creek, whose lives have been changed and feeling of safety shattered.

While details continue to emerge on this tragedy, the 700,000 Sikhs living in the United States have increasingly been victims of hate and discrimination. The media coverage following this tragedy, including CNN Network’s disturbing decision to distinguish Sikhs and Muslims, which implicitly suggested an attack on Muslims is within expectation, as well as the initial hesitation to call this an act of terrorism, show how severely intolerance and ignorance have been allowed to persist in our country, and the immediate need to stop it in all of its forms.

The Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel has more editorials, news, and updates.

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  • Anonymous

    The (rather limited general) coverage of the Oak Creek attack to me also threw in sharp relief the racist attacks that were (almost) not covered: The Mosque arson attack and fire bombing in Joplin, Missouri and the attacks on Blacks in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem: “a White man entered an internet cafe in south Tel
    Aviv, stabbed three Eritrean asylum seekers who were inside [...] In April, four houses and one kindergarten
    in the same neighborhood in south Tel Aviv were hit within the same
    hour by Molotov cocktails. And just two weeks ago, an Eritrean couple
    were hospitalized after an arson attack on their Jerusalem home.”

  • Anonymous

    I have a question: Why is Wade referred to as “White supremacist” instead of as “Neonazi” in the media? He posed in front of the Nazi flag and wore Neonazi shirts with German language Neonazi phrases. Why the term “White supremacist”? To me the later term almost sounds… euphemistic. “I think Whites are supreme” (awful, but…) rather than “I’m a Nazi. I’m into genocide”.

  • Holliday Vann

    No peace for a body but in the morgue these days! No peace on the sidewalk (Trayvon Martin), in the home, the church, the temple, or the hospital (Ohio hospital shooting)! We will gawk and moan, but nothing ever really changes. The NRA and most of white America is so fear-based that gun laws will stay exactly as they are…you know, just in case one of us comes a-crawlin’ throo da winder! God bless these and other grieving families–all over the US.

  • http://twitter.com/syarrizvi Shahryar Rizvi

    The shooter, Wade Michael Page, was stationed at Ft. Bragg at roughly the same time a white supremacist culture developed on base. A few paratroopers stationed on base murdered a black Fayetteville couple in 1995. There may be a connection, but Army reps aren’t disclosing the years Page was stationed. Knowing our history of brushing racism under the rug, I doubt the truth will come out anytime soon. So, the shooter will be another “lone wolf” and not part of a culture of racist murders.

  • Elton

    The “Sikhs are not Muslims, they’re good people” meme is particularly disturbing, because reporters who use it think they’re being nice. Talk about a backhanded compliment!

    John McCain used a variation during the last presidential campaign when he corrected a woman who thought Obama was an “Arab” by stating that he was, instead, a “decent family man.”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MRq6Y4NmB6U

    • Clara Morena

      I know kind and wonderful people who are Muslim. It’s disgusting the idea of Muslim meaning bad or evil.

  • Brandon

    I’ll bet heavily that this shooting receives about 1/3 of the media coverage of Aurora. Apologists will say it’s because of the number dead. Racialicious readers will know better.

  • Lila

    This is a horrible, heart wrenching tragedy. I feel like we have ignored these shootings as the epidemic that they are, due to solely to the fact that the perpetrators are generally white men. If the gunnmen were from any community of color, their actions would be pathologized over and over again and used as representative of the entire group. Now, all we see is a focus on the shooters…always considered just “lone” gunman & never perceived as an example of a pathology of white culture in the U.S.

    • Elton

      I think this is an example of the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_true_Scotsman logical fallacy. Members of the mainstream tend to stereotype minority groups as the “other” so they can fit them into little boxes and discriminate against them more quickly and easily.

      Naturally, the mainstream defies stereotyping of themselves. If any member of the white mainstream does something that might reflect poorly on all white people, their actions aren’t stereotyped as “white people” actions.

      - No true Scotsman would participate in terrorism!
      – What if a person of Scottish descent participates in terrorism?
      - Then he is not a true Scotsman.

      The reason why this logical fallacy continues to be perpetuated is that the media almost always assumes that the viewer is white and a little dumb. If a story is about minorities, they are portrayed as “those” and “the other” in subtle ways (e.g. trite explanations of the differences between Sikhs and Muslims which assume you don’t know any better and must be taught). As a minority, you quickly learn to turn a subconscious switch in your mind reminding you that the media isn’t actually talking to you directly and you must take a white perspective.

      If a story is about white people, white culture, or a white perspective, it is presented to the viewer as “ordinary,” “normal,” “our,” “we,” “daily life,” and otherwise assumes the viewer is white and therefore the same as the reporter in subtle ways. Quirks and curiosities of white culture and white middle class life need no explanation, and are assumed to be normal and familiar to the viewer. Stereotypical representations of white people (e.g. Jerry Springer’s guests) are quickly compartmentalized into “the other” kind of white people and therefore not representative of white people as a whole. Thus, the mainstream and default nature of whiteness is protected.

    • Keith

      Whether it’s a mass murder, neo colonialism, or whites voting against their own best interest because they are told poc have special privileges, white supremacy is a real thing that America (and the west in general for that matter) does not want to acknowledge