Terror war comes home: White supremacist kills 6 Sikhs in Wisconsin

Sikh prayer A man in Wisconsin prays for his family members (Photo: Mike De Sisti/AP)

The systematic violence against Muslims that defines the so-called “war on terror” came home again yesterday, as six Sikh-Americans were shot and killed at a Wisconsin gurdwara, a place of worship for Sikhs. 

Sikhs are often targeted for harassment by people who mistake them for Muslims.

Muslim-American and Jewish-American organizations have released statements in solidarity with the Sikh community.

The New York Times has some harrowing details on the shootings yesterday:

The priests had gathered in the lobby of the sprawling Sikh temple here in suburban Milwaukee, and lunch was being prepared as congregants were arriving for Sunday services.

Instead of worshipers, though, an armed man stepped through the door and started firing.

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.

Jatinder Mangat, 40, who was on his way to the temple when he heard reports about the shooting, said he had tried to call his uncle, the temple’s president, but reached the head priest, Gurmail Singh, instead. “He was crying. Everyone was screaming,” Mr. Mangat said. “He said that my uncle was shot and was lying on the floor and asked why you guys are not sending an ambulance and police.”

Mr. Singh, he said, had locked himself in a bathroom with four other people, including two children.

The shooter has been identified as Wade Michael Page, a forty year-old white supremacist and Army veteran. Page reportedly had a tattoo commemorating the 9/11 attacks; the tattoos on his body led the Federal Bureau of Investigation to consider this a “domestic terrorist” attack

The Southern Poverty Law Center has details on Page:

The man who allegedly murdered six people at a Sikh temple in suburban Milwaukee yesterday, identified in media reports as Wade Michael Page, was a frustrated neo-Nazi who had been the leader of a racist white-power band…

In 2000, the Southern Poverty Law Center has found that Page also attempted to purchase goods from the neo-Nazi National Alliance, then America’s most important hate group.

According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Page “served in the Army for several years and was assigned to psychological operations.” 

Juan Cole has a smart post up about the “atmosphere of virulent hate speech against American Muslims” that should be looked at closely in the aftermath of this shooting. Cole:

He likely thought he was targeting American Muslims. He operated in an atmosphere of virulent hate speech against American Muslims. A discourse of Islamophobia has plagued the United States in the past decade, pushed by unscrupulous bigots in public life and by entire media organizations such as Fox Cable News and other media properties of billionaire yellow press lord Rupert Murdoch. Among them is also Rush Limbaugh, who, incredibly, is still broadcast to US soldiers abroad.

Among the hatemongers are Frank Gaffney, and his acolyte Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn), Rep. Peter King (R-NY) Daniel Pipes, James Woolsey, Robert Spencer, Steve Emerson, John Bolton, and sometimes Rudi Giuliani, Mike Huckabee and others, most associated with the Republican Party. The push for hate speech against American Muslims is funded by a small group of billionaires through their foundations. Some of the Muslim-haters are connected to the US arms industry and are hoping for profits from further wars in the Middle East. Others are Israel-firster fanatics. Others are looking for a bogey man to scare Americans with, so as to convince them to vote against their interests, as they used Communism during the Cold War to convince ordinary Americans to give up their constitutional rights.

Since 9/11, Sikhs have been the target of violence. My friend and colleague Jaisal Noor, who grew up in a Sikh family, filed this important and informative report for Democracy Now! on the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks:

About Alex Kane

Alex Kane is an assistant editor for Mondoweiss and the World editor for AlterNet. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.
Posted in Israel/Palestine, War on Terror

{ 33 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. Great comprehensive report, Alex! Thanks.

    In today’s news: a mosque burning in Joplin, Missouri:
    ‘The shooting at a Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin is the day’s worst example of hateful violence — but it is not, sadly, the only one. Early Monday morning, someone set fire to the Islamic Society of Joplin during Islam’s holy month of Ramadan. The mosque couldn’t be saved, so now there are 50 Muslim families in Joplin, Missouri — the same town devastated by a tornado last May — without a place to worship.’
    From: link to salon.com

    • Krauss says:

      Well, to be fair, you had a muslim army captain kill more people in the Fort Hood shootings. It had nothing to do with Islam. It was a mad man.

      Another part which sort of undermines the whole ‘America is now turning against anyone who is muslim or looks like a muslim’ is the fact that this guy was a neo-Nazi who was booted out of the army. You sort of expected him to go after a minority group. My guess is that he wanted to go for Jews first but security around Jewish buildings and institutions are quite good, Sikh temples are perhaps not as secure(at least up until now).

      If you look at most serial killers the last few years, it’s either been bully victims(this is especially true for Asians) or just random psychopaths like the recent Batman killer.

      From time to time you get the ideological nutjobs, like this far-right extremist or the islamic extremist of the Fort Hood incident.

      • Woody Tanaka says:

        “You sort of expected him to go after a minority group. My guess is that he wanted to go for Jews first…”

        Why would you believe that? What have you read that led you to specifically believe that he wanted to go for Jews first?

  2. Pamela Olson says:

    What a perfect storm of bigotry and stupidity. The billionaires of the media, arms, and Zionism industries work tirelessly to encourage both, and this is a small sample of the result. Not that they care.

    I still, after everything I’ve seen and learned, don’t understand how people who have billions are totally fine whipping up killing frenzies just to get more. How insecure does a person have to be to allow such psychopathic behavior?

    I grieve for the people killed and maimed while just going about their lives, and for the millions more who live in fear of another evil idiot taking Fox-News-style hate speech to its logical conclusion.

    • Totally agree. This is what happens when you legitimise and encourage hate. What is particularly sick is the involvement of Jewish groups with taxpayer funding who do all in their power to stigmatise Muslims. It is exactly the same as anti-semitism was a hundred years ago. You would think they know better, apparently they have learnt nothing, despite building Holocaust museums everywhere. Of course they will deny it all, that’s the epitome of the irresponsibility they demonstrate when they create a climate which encourages people to think like this. It seems enough is never enough.

      • Bumblebye says:

        “It is exactly the same as anti-semitism was a hundred years ago” – that must be why Faux News asked a mourner if there have been “anti-semitic acts in the past against the Sikh community”
        link to liberalconspiracy.org

        • ColinWright says:

          “It is exactly the same as anti-semitism was a hundred years ago” – that must be why Faux News asked a mourner if there have been “anti-semitic acts in the past against the Sikh community”
          link to liberalconspiracy.org “

          I checked out the link. Things have gotten even worse than I thought.

        • Shmuel says:

          that must be why Faux News asked a mourner if there have been “anti-semitic acts in the past against the Sikh community”

          Reminds me of Jay Leno’s reference to “South African African-Americans”.

      • AllenBee says:

        “It is exactly the same as anti-semitism was a hundred years ago.”

        In fact, justicewillprevail, 100 years ago taxpayer funding was used to gin up hatred of Germans, not Jews. George Creel gave his name to the Creel Commission; Eddie Bernays burnished techniques learned from his uncle, Sigmund Freud, to whip up war frenzy/propaganda. The Wonskolaser (aka Warner) Brothers hit the big time with “My Four Years in Germany,” a propaganda film in the form of a documentary purporting to show German brutality in World War I. And away we go.

      • ColinWright says:

        “…It is exactly the same as anti-semitism was a hundred years ago…”

        Maybe the same as anti-semitism was a hundred years ago in Kishinev — which isn’t exactly reassuring.

    • ColinWright says:

      “…What a perfect storm of bigotry and stupidity…”

      The only flaw with your metaphor is that it’s possible things will get more ‘perfect’ still — which suggests that they can hardly be ‘perfect’ now.

      We may just be taking our baby steps. Sky’s the limit…

  3. American says:

    I ditto every word Cole said about the pushers of Muslim hate.
    They add fuel to the fire of the neo nazi groups and other unstable mental cases to do things like this.
    Tragic…there ought to be something we could do about it.

  4. Clif Brown says:

    I read in the NY Times a month or two ago that the great majority of funds from Homeland Security given to private organizations for protection of Americans went to Jewish groups. This makes no sense when it is crazy Americans who are suspicious of and attacking Muslims for being Muslim.

    • American says:

      “This makes no sense when it is crazy Americans who are suspicious of and attacking Muslims for being Muslim”

      No it doesn’t, never has becuase of 911. It’s political favortism for a select group. That’s the crux of it. No real rational to it at all.

  5. It wasn’t so long ago that Mondoweiss noted how, according to Haaretz and as admitted by Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano, an incredible 97% of federal defense grants for non-profits go to Jewish organizations.

    link to mondoweiss.net

    Despite the fact that Sikhs have been repeatedly targeted in this country, not just since 9/11 but going back to the Persian Gulf War two decades ago, their community did not elicit a serious commitment by the so-called Homeland Security Department.

    We should ask: whose “Homeland” is the U.S. government defending?

  6. American says:

    Related Insanity:

    Last night I heard Mark Rubio of Fla. making a speech to a crowd of knuckle dragger faithfuls…..he said and I quote…..’WE are better than anyone or any country!”
    Yes he actually proclaimed…… that Americans are BETTER than any other peoples.
    I almost threw up.
    Maybe he will get struck by lightening.

    • ToivoS says:

      If one has to say that he is better than anyone else, says more about his defensiveness then his self confidence.

    • ColinWright says:

      “Yes he actually proclaimed…… that Americans are BETTER than any other peoples.”

      The irony is that we used to be quietly sure of the fact — but usually too polite to say it. Some even used to pretend to believe otherwise.

      Now we are starting to doubt it — and so bellow what is no longer a fact to the skies.

  7. This newspaper report, linked to in Alex’s article, is saying the FBI did not find a 9/11 tattoo on the shooter:
    link to jsonline.com

  8. Sassan says:

    Absolute tragedy.

  9. Les says:

    Our media relentlessly demonizes Palestinians for being Arab terrorists. Having whipped up racist hatred against Arab Muslims, that same media pretends shock at what happened in Wisconsin. That racist method of supporting Israel’s ethnic cleansing and occupation has become so accepted that few notice that those on Obama’s kill list are exclusively Muslims. Lets skip the lone wolf nonsense and face the fact that killing Muslims, wherever they can be found, has become official US policy. Give our media the credit they are due.

  10. Mndwss says:

    The other day i read a comment in a Norwegian newspaper by a man who said he was a Norwegian Jew and that what he found most frightening about Norwegian society was all the anti-racism.

    A few people commented on what he said, but all seemed to have not noticed the word anti before the word racism.

    I tried to ask him why he was a racist.

    For the first time my comments in this newspaper was deleted by the moderators. (I guess some racists need extra protection).

    I tried several times and one comment got through, and he answered that his people had learned about race from a “hit in the face”.

    I hope the Sikhs will not learn to hate from a “hit in the face”.

    • ColinWright says:

      “… tried several times and one comment got through, and he answered that his people had learned about race from a “hit in the face”.

      I hope the Sikhs will not learn to hate from a “hit in the face”…”

      Well, at least Sikhs would have a hard time fantasizing they’re a ‘race.’ The religion only dates back a few hundred years, and never converted everyone in the Punjab.

      Then too, this isn’t exactly a first for them. They were batting the ball back and forth with India about thirty years back. Highlights include the storming of the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the assassination of the Indian prime minister by her Sikh bodyguards, anti-Sikh pogroms claiming a couple of thousand victims, and an Air Canada jet full of Hindus getting blown out of the sky.

      All 100% Muslim-free terrorism, by the way.

    • American says:

      Speaking of Norway I saw this in the JP.

      link to jpost.com

      Expert slams study for playing down anti-Semitism
      By BENJAMIN WEINTHAL JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT
      08/07/2012 01:23

      Norweigan study fails to use EU definition of anti-Semitism, Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld
      >>>>>>

      I just have two questions.
      If 50-60-90% of the world admitted to being anti semitic would that be enough for them? Would they be satisfied then?
      The other question….what good do the anti semite hunters think demanding laws or enforcing definitions on anti semitism does?
      This expert says that if the EU definition was used 38% of Norwegians would be classified anti semitic.
      Let’s imagine that was even true, what do the zios think Norway would do about it? Put their anti semites in prison, give them shock treatments or what?
      Exactly what do the Zios think a country’s government would do if 38% of their citizens were anti semites or anti Israel?
      I don’t get their end game in their constantly trying to prove anti semitism (code for anti Israel)is rampant.
      Suppose a poll showed 50% of France was anti semitic….do the zios think a government clamping down or arresting or fining it’s citizens for their opinions is going to change the anti semite or the anti Israel attitudes in people?
      No it just pisses them off more.

      • ColinWright says:

        “…Speaking of Norway I saw this in the JP.

        link to jpost.com

        Expert slams study for playing down anti-Semitism
        By BENJAMIN WEINTHAL JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT
        08/07/2012 01:23

        Norweigan study fails to use EU definition of anti-Semitism, Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld…”

        The problem is (as the JP article admits) is the EU definition of antisemitism (which I believe is only proposed) defines hostility towards Israel as anti-semitism.

        By that criteria, most of the posters here are ‘anti-semites.’ That I could live with — but we’re going to have to come up with another word for people who hate Jews.

  11. ColinWright says:

    Not all Whites are terrorists but all terrorists are Whites.

    It’s no more ridiculous than anything else people believe these days.

  12. ColinWright says:

    It’d be a stretch, but…

    Obama approved the whacking of some American citizen who was a propagandist for al Qaeda. Can he now approve the whacking of Pam Geller or somebody on the same basis?

    Of course, I suppose whacking people for what they say could get out of hand. Maybe we could have equal-opportunity whacking. Affirmative action whacking!

  13. Sassan says:

    After the Aurora shooting, I knew some mass shooting was going to happen again soon within the next couple of weeks. Some people may wonder why as these two events on the outside have nothing to do with each other (Aurora shooting and the Sikh shooting). The fact is, that after a mass shooting, usually a similar type of event happens in the area where it was widely covered in the media (this case the United States). People whom are inclined to do such a thing, go over their tipping line. A similar phenomenon happens with plane crashes. I have predicted such things a couple of times now. I learned of this phenomenon after having read “The Psychology of Influence” by Dr. Robert B. Cialdini years ago.

  14. The irony of an ‘anti-islamic’ attack on a Sikh gurdwara (temple) is that many of the most prominent aspects of the Sikhhism as practised today were created as a response to what Sikhs themselves perceived as Islamic tyranny. Many Sikhs do not cut their hair, always carry a ritual knife (two of the mandatory ‘five k’s’). This is precisely because about 300 years ago the last of the Sikh gurus re-organized the religion along military/democratic lines to preserve Sikkhism from the repeated assault of the spreading Mughal Empire. The Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb was particularly known for his piety, and spreading Islam was one of the principal reasons for his consistent persecution of the Sikhs.

    A Gurudwara is vulnerable precisely because Sikhs openly welcome visitors of all faiths. Many of them are very beautiful, and anyone can visit as long as you cover your head and take off your shoes.

  15. RE: “The systematic violence against Muslims that defines the so-called ‘war on terror’ came home again yesterday, as six Sikh-Americans were shot and killed at a Wisconsin gurdwara, a place of worship for Sikhs.” ~ Alex Kane

    MY COMMENT: I wonder if Mitt Romney considers the Sikhs to be an inferior culture like that of the Palestinians, Mexicans and Ecuadorians that causes their economies to lag behind the economies of superior cultures like those of Israel, the U.S. and Chile.
    If so, would that make Sikh-Americans an “existential threat” to the U.S. economy; and, if so, what would be the appropriate remedy to protect the U.S. economy from being impaired by the “inferior” Sikh culture?*

    FROM AVIVA SHEN @ ThinkProgress.org on 7/30/12″

    {EXCERPT] In a speech to wealthy donors in Tel Aviv over the weekend, Romney praised Israel’s “economic vitality” compared to the poor Palestinian economy. He attributed the economic success of the nation to a strong culture. . .
    . . . To give the full context, Romney discussed two economic theories, one attributing success to the physical characteristics of the land, while another attributes it to culture. He argued that the successes of Israel, the U.S. and Chile can be attributed to strong cultures; conversely, the geographically similar Palestinian, Ecuadorean and Mexican economies are the result of a poorer culture. . .

    SOURCE – link to en.wikipedia.org

    * WHERE THE DESPICABLE IDEAS OF MITT ROMNEY (AND DAN SENOR) ULTIMATELY LEAD:
    Homo Sapiens 1900 (2000) NR, 85 minutes
    This documentary follows the history of eugenics — scientific studies designed to improve genetic qualities, usually by selective breeding — from when it gained steam at the start of the 20th century to its decline after World War II. Initially, the hype involved promoting a healthier lifestyle, but the real controversy dealt with Nazi leaders who used the theory to determine which members of society were less desired and expendable.
    Director: Peter Cohen (The Architecture of Doom )
    Netflix Format: DVD and streaming
    • Netflix DVD – link to dvd.netflix.com
    • Netflix streaming – link to movies.netflix.com
    • Internet Movie Database – link to imdb.com
    Wikipedia – link to en.wikipedia.org
    ALSO ON YouTube: Homo Sapiens 1900 – [History of Eugenics] (VIDEO, 1:24:05) – link to youtube.com

  16. ColinWright says:

    “A Gurudwara is vulnerable precisely because Sikhs openly welcome visitors of all faiths. Many of them are very beautiful, and anyone can visit as long as you cover your head and take off your shoes…”

    The same is more or less true of mosques, and the Russian Orthodox cathedral over in San Francisco confines itself to asking that women cover their heads.