As I've been reading articles and update about the shooting at the Sikh temple in Wisconsin and the mosque arson in Missouri, the above line has been resonating with me all day. The line is actually from a Slate article about the Chick-fil-A insanity, but it would be just as fittingly accurate in an article about these latest bouts of violence. Just watching how various news sources have made comments about how the Sikh temple was "mistakenly" targeted (insinuating, of course, if it had been a mosque, than the shooting would somehow be understandable), it's abundantly clear that it's not just white supremacists who are woefully ignorant of the many different cultures, religions and ethnicities that make up the fabric of our country. It's a whole lot of us.
My dad, who is a Criminal Justice professor at the University of Detroit Mercy, left the following comment on a New York Times article about the shooting in Wisconsin. It bears repeating here:
"We need to revisit the tragedy of gas station manager Balbir Sighn Sodi who was gunned down just a few days after 9/11 in Mesa, Arizona just after he had contributed $75.00 to the NY Relief Fund at Costco where he was trying to buy American flags and flowers for his business. He was killed by a truly ignorant man named Frank Roque who is alleged to have yelled at police from his trailer while being arrested: "Arrest me and let the terrorists run wild." Little has been written about this hate crime perpetrator who is serving a life sentence in prison. Sadly the Sodhi family lost Sukhpal, another son, in San Francisco, to what many think was hate motivation, on August 4, 2002 when he was shot in the head driving his cab.
Please think about revisiting this story in the context of the hateful murders in Wisconsin. Americans are largely unaware of other cultures and the vast majority are ill-informed by a sensationalist media and do not read much beyond the daily comics section... if they read at all."
I wish I knew how to get more Americans interested in other cultures. I know there are many who are interested in and enriched by cultures different from their own, I don't want to discount that. But there seems to be an awful lot of people who are proud of their ignorance and complete lack of curiosity about their neighbors. The combination of a quickly changing cultural landscape and this staggering economic downturn has left a lot of people bitter and scared. In response, they dig their heels in and look for somebody to blame. The gays. The Arabs. The Mexicans. This has translated into a refusal to accept as American, people who are, irrefutably, American. This is unacceptable to me. It should be unacceptable to everybody.