Media outlets have failed to properly cover the terrorist attack on a Sikh Community in Milwaukee, Wisconsin some days ago. There isn’t enough coverage, yet its main purpose is to differentiate the Sikhs from Muslims, as if making a distinction between the two somehow made this massacre more atrocious than it would have been were the victims Muslim. I’ve read many posts about the irrelevancy of such differentiation, and I fully agree with the disgust expressed at such attempts. I’ve barely heard any coverage of this incident, but from the bit that I have heard, the media automatically makes mentions of what separates these two religions.
How about being concerned that White Supremacists, a.k.a terrorists, are free to lash out with hatred against innocent lives? How about focusing the attention on the real issues at hand? Issues being that White Supremacists have no hidden agendas and are not, by any means, scared of expressing their disdain through hate crimes because it seems to be acceptable in this country. The media only covers these cases ever so often, insinuating that these acts occur sparingly and for reasons other than hate. For reasons such as traumas, medication abuse, depression, lunacy, etc…
We live in a country that prides itself for its freedom of speech. When The Black Panthers were expressing their right of speech back in their day, they were killed, beaten or threatened for their views and actions. White supremacists have existed long before and are still going strong, with public displays of hatred through lyrics, vandalism of minority properties, acts of violence and verbal slander. Authorities and the Government see it as their right to practice freedom of speech, until, of course, a massacre takes place and the media covers it, and are then forced to speak out against them.
We live in a country that prides itself for its freedom of religion. Apparently for so many South Asian communities, it doesn’t seem to be the case. And these incidences haven’t been occurring only after 9/11, although they have been more frequently. We live in a place that anyone can practice the religion they choose or not practice at all. But how can society express acceptance of all religions if our own leaders disrespect and publicly abhor certain beliefs. For example, when Pres. Obama began running for office, he was attacked from all sides because they claimed him to be Muslim. Should it even matter? As an American Citizen, is it not his right to practice whatever religion he so desires? Middle Eastern religions who fit the characteristics of Muslims and Sikhs, among other religions, are disrespected and insulted for being who they are. They are perceived as inferior beings. They are automatically classified as terrorists, as being a hateful community who practices an evil religion.
American ignorance is repulsive. This country often speaks out against terrorism in other countries, predominantly in the Middle East, yet we have our own to eradicate, and nothing is being done. Terrorist acts in this country are seen as random acts of violence, not for what they truly are. And that is more repulsive than ignorance itself. There is tactic for that though. This country wants to be considered THE superior country by all means, and if it means that South Asian communities will continue to live in fear for being who they are because White Supremacists will never be classified as terrorists, then so be it. If it means that superficially, this country is protecting the rights of all people although in reality it is facilitating such hateful crimes through loopholes and turning a blind eye, then so be it.
Something ain’t right here. And until the real issues at hand are not properly addressed, these massacres will continue to happen. Justice and respect for all is overdue. We are all brothers and sister, citizens of this world. No one is superior or inferior to another. And until that is understood within the whole spectrum of beings will we truly reap the benefits of peace and love.
I leave you with this…
“Until the philosophy which hold one race superior
And abandoned –
Everywhere is war –
Me say war.
That until there no longer
First class and second class citizens of any nation
Until the colour of a man’s skin
Is of no more significance than the colour of his eyes –
Me say war.
That until the basic human rights
Are equally guaranteed to all,
Without regard to race –
Dis a war…”
A Rock, A River, A Tree
Hosts to species long since departed,
Marked the mastodon.
The dinosaur, who left dry tokens
Of their sojourn here
On our planet floor,
Any broad alarm of their hastening doom
Is lost in the gloom of dust and ages.
But today, the Rock cries out to us, clearly, forcefully,
Come, you may stand upon my
Back and face your distant destiny,
But seek no haven in my shadow.
I will give you no more hiding place down here.
You, created only a little lower than
The angels, have crouched too long in
The bruising darkness,
Have lain too long
Face down in ignorance.
Your mouths spilling words
Armed for slaughter.
The Rock cries out today, you may stand on me,
But do not hide your face.
Across the wall of the world,
A River sings a beautiful song,
Come rest here by my side.
Each of you a bordered country,
Delicate and strangely made proud,
Yet thrusting perpetually under siege.
Your armed struggles for profit
Have left collars of waste upon
My shore, currents of debris upon my breast.
Yet, today I call you to my riverside,
If you will study war no more. Come,
Clad in peace and I will sing the songs
The Creator gave to me when I and the
Tree and the stone were one.
Before cynicism was a bloody sear across your
Brow and when you yet knew you still
The River sings and sings on.
There is a true yearning to respond to
The singing River and the wise Rock.
So say the Asian, the Hispanic, the Jew
The African and Native American, the Sioux,
The Catholic, the Muslim, the French, the Greek
The Irish, the Rabbi, the Priest, the Sheikh,
The Gay, the Straight, the Preacher,
The privileged, the homeless, the Teacher.
They hear. They all hear
The speaking of the Tree.
Today, the first and last of every Tree
Speaks to humankind.
Come to me, here beside the River.
Plant yourself beside me, here beside the River.
Each of you, descendant of some passed
On traveller, has been paid for.
You, who gave me my first name, you
Pawnee, Apache and Seneca, you
Cherokee Nation, who rested with me, then
Forced on bloody feet, left me to the employment of
Other seekers–desperate for gain,
Starving for gold.
You, the Turk, the Swede, the German, the Scot …
You the Ashanti, the Yoruba, the Kru, bought
Sold, stolen, arriving on a nightmare
Praying for a dream.
Here, root yourselves beside me.
I am the Tree planted by the River,
Which will not be moved.
I, the Rock, I the River, I the Tree
I am yours–your Passages have been paid.
Lift up your faces, you have a piercing need
For this bright morning dawning for you.
History, despite its wrenching pain,
Cannot be unlived, and if faced
With courage, need not be lived again.
Lift up your eyes upon
The day breaking for you.
Give birth again
To the dream.
Women, children, men,
Take it into the palms of your hands.
Mold it into the shape of your most
Private need. Sculpt it into
The image of your most public self.
Lift up your hearts
Each new hour holds new chances
For new beginnings.
Do not be wedded forever
To fear, yoked eternally
The horizon leans forward,
Offering you space to place new steps of change.
Here, on the pulse of this fine day
You may have the courage
To look up and out upon me, the
Rock, the River, the Tree, your country.
No less to Midas than the mendicant.
No less to you now than the mastodon then.
Here on the pulse of this new day
You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sister’s eyes, into
Your brother’s face, your country
And say simply
Video of Maya Angelou reciting her poem at Bill Clinton’s Presidential Inauguration in 1993: