Observing that the Sunday attack on a Sikh temple in Wisconsin hasn’t attracted nearly as much attention as other shooting sprees, including last week’s rampage at an Aurora, Colorado movie theater, Robert Wright wonders if the disparity is due to the fact that most people who shape discourse in America “can imagine their friends and relatives — and themselves — being at a theater watching a Batman movie,” but can’t imagine themselves or their acquaintances in a Sikh temple. “This isn’t meant as a scathing indictment; it’s only natural to get freaked out by threats in proportion to how threatening they seem to you personally,” Wright says, adding that the press ought to give much more coverage to the incident.
In a provocative essay in The Awl, Jay Caspian Kang goes different places with the same core insight. “Who, when first hearing of the news, didn’t assume the killings were an act of racial hatred? Who didn’t start to piece together the turbans, the brown skin, the epidemic of post-9/11 violence that is under-reported, or at least never has all its incidents connected?” he asked. That narrative “only implicates a small percentage of Americans,” he continued, “the story of the massacre at Oak Creek will be, by definition, exclusionary. It will be ‘tragic’ and ‘unthinkable’ and ‘horrific,’ but it will not force millions of Americans to ask potentially unanswerable questions. It will not animate an angry public.” It will seem different, he adds, to members of the several minority groups “who cannot limit themselves out of the victims of Oak Creek.”
IMAGE: Members of the Sikh congregation mourn their dead. / Reuters
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