News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Aug. 10, 2012: A day after the August 5th killing of seven at a Sikh temple or gurdwara near Milwaukee in Wisconsin and the news that Wade Michael Page, the killer, was apparently fueled by race hate when he entered the kitchen of the temple and gunned down six innocent immigrants as they chanted prayers in the main area, I could not help but reflect on whether the anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant rhetoric that is constantly spewed from the right has led us to this place.
The shooting came amidst claims that the U.S. government is being infiltrated and influenced by Islamic extremists at the highest levels and in light of many claiming President Obama is granting amnesty to “illegal aliens.”
Whether this was what triggered Wade, a frustrated neo-Nazi with a tattoo marking the 9/11 attacks, to murder six and injure several others in a temple, we will never know as he is dead.
We will never know whether he ignorantly thought Sikhs were Muslims and as such branded them as terrorists as many right wingers and neo-Nazis do, or he simply did not care, since they were of course non-white and foreign.
But what we do know, thanks to the Southern Poverty Law Center, is that Wade had been members of racist white-power bands, “End Apathy” and “Definite Hate.”
Interestingly, ‘Define Hate’s’ album “Violent Victory,” features a gruesome drawing of a disembodied white arm punching a black man in the face.
What is also a fact is that many Sikhs, who make up the fifth largest religion in the world, have faced over 300 biased attacks since 9/11 across the U.S., according to the Sikh Coalition, as they are mistaken for being Muslims because the men wear turbans and grow their beards.
The killing has triggered new fears in this immigrant community, which now feel copy cat killers could be tempted to carry out similar killings around temples in other parts of the country.
These fears are substantiated, especially given the response from many White supremacists in online forums and message boards since the deadly attack.
Alex Linder, the neo-Nazi who operates the racist website Vanguard News Network, was openly anti-immigrant on his forum.
“Take your dead and go back to India and dump their ashes in the Ganges, Sikhs,” he wrote. “You don’t belong here in the country my ancestors fought to found, and deeded to me and mine, their posterity. Even if you came here legally, and even if you haven’t done anything wrong personally, Go home, Sikhs. Go home to India where you belong. This is not your country, it belongs to white men.”
Others on VNN responded similarly, warning that Page was not alone in the threat he posed.
“[T]here are thousands of other angry White men like Page out there, the vast majority of them unknown,” a commenter named OTPTT wrote. “When will they, like Page, reach their breaking point, where they give up all hope for peaceful activism, and reach for their guns and start shooting at the first non-Whites they see?”
Such sentiments are chilling in light of the many anti-immigrant rhetoric and new rules that have now been put in place in many states, including in Arizona and Georgia.
Should immigrants be fearful for their lives in these states? I pray not! But there is no denying that rhetoric from Tea Party fundamentalists, skinheads and the right may have led to a man murdering innocent immigrants on August 5th and all who spew hate should be accountable.
The writer is founder of NewsAmericasNow, CaribPR Wire and Hard Beat Communications.