The killing of Sikhs in Oak Creek, Wisconsin over the weekend wasn’t supposed to happen. None of these shootings, like the ones in Aurora, and Tucson, and Fort Hood, and Virginia Tech, and many other places, are supposed to happen. But when a crazy guy (and they’re always guys, aren’t they?) who’s had his mind warped and his humanity extinguished gets his hands on a weapon, there isn’t much that can be done to head that off, is there?
The Sikhs who had gathered in prayer and worship were in a sacred place. All religions build temples or mosques or churches, as places where they can gather together and practice their faiths. To bring gunshots and death into such a place–regardless of which faith it is–is about the worst thing that I can think of.
I have to say here that I’m not religious, and I’m frankly a bit suspicious of all organized religions. Throughout history, people of all faiths have done terrible things to each other in the name of holiness. There must be some sort of a divinity, but for any group to believe that they understand that divinity, better than everyone else does, seems dangerous to me. But this is America, and whatever your religion is, you have a right to practice it, as long as it doesn’t infringe upon other people’s rights. If we ever give that up, America may just as well close up shop.
But some religions are more prevalent than others in this country. And the Sikhs–as a testament to American ignorance, I’m afraid–are often confused with Muslims, even though they have no connections to Islam at all. The turbans that Sikh men are required to wear identifies them as threats, in the mind of some who, coincidentally enough, may have a religion of their own. But the Sikhs go about their business, like every other religion does, and to have them seen as a threat is an affront to me, as an American.
I don’t know much about Sikhs at all, but I know that they have their traditions and their beliefs, just like the Christians, and the Jews, and the Muslims, and the Buddhists, and every other religious group. Who decides which groups are valid, and which ones aren’t? Nobody does, and that’s where the monster who started firing into a Sikh house of worship got it wrong. And as a result, six people are dead and a community will never feel safe again.
Details are beginning to emerge about who this guy was, and what led him to do such a terrible thing. But whatever those reasons are, they won’t change the fact that he violated not just one religious group, but all the people–religious or not–who consider America as their home. And no punishment he can receive is enough to make up for that offense.