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Opinion: Intolerance and the Sikh temple shootings

Opinion: Intolerance and the Sikh temple shootings

August 19th, 2012 in News

The Oneonta (N.Y.) Daily Star on intolerance and the Sikh temple shootings in Wisconsin, from Aug. 13, 2012:

The recent shooting deaths of six victims at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin brings to light once again the struggles we face over achieving tolerance for beliefs other than our own, which is a foundation of our nation's creation.

In this case, those of the Sikh faith were targeted in their own house of worship, whether mistaken by the shooter for Muslims or because they wear distinctive turbans and beards as part of their faith. They were seen and treated as something other than rightful American citizens guaranteed the freedom to practice their religion. ...

The shooter accused of the attacks - 40-year-old U.S. Army veteran Wade Michael Page - was shot by police, then committed suicide, that day.

While we may never know his motives, media reports have said Page was a white supremacist who felt action was needed against any that did not fall in line with the betterment of white, Christian males.

It is hard for most of us to understand how someone could do this. Some in the Sikh community wondered aloud, "What did we do wrong?" after the shooting. ...

Those of the Sikh faith also faced persecution. According to Washington, D.C.-based think tank Sikh Coalition, there were at least 300 reported incidents of attacks against Sikhs in the months after 9/11. They were painted, like Muslims, as terrorist and un-American. ...

It is vital to acquire knowledge and understanding of other faiths and cultures. And we must work to root out the injustice and intolerance that led to such acts of hatred and terror against some of our own.