Bloomberg News reports “Wisconsin Sikh Shooting Suspect Said To Be Army Veteran” (August 6, 2012):
The gunman suspected of killing six people before police shot him dead at a Sikh temple near Milwaukee was identified by police as a 40-year-old U.S. Army veteran with ties to white supremacists.
Wade Michael Page entered the Army in 1992 and served at Fort Bliss, Texas, as a Hawk missile-repair specialist before switching to be a “psychological operations specialist,” according to a defense official. He served at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, before being discharged in 1998, said the official, who asked for anonymity, saying he wasn’t authorized to speak for the Army.
Police secure a neighborhood where the gunman lived who is suspected of opening fire at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin August, 5, 2012 Cudahy, Wisconsin. Photographer: Scott Olson/Getty Images
The Southern Poverty Law Center described Page as a “frustrated neo-Nazi” who in 2005 led a “racist white supremacist” metal band called End Apathy. The Montgomery, Alabama-based organization, which monitors hate groups, said it has been tracking Page for a decade.
Chip Berlet of Political Research Associates describes the Islamophobic climate from which “Christian Terror” such as the Wisconsin Sikh massacre or the emerges “Islamophobia, Antisemitism and the Demonized ‘Other’: Parallels among bigotries reflect the conspiratorial mindset” (August 2012).
Responding to the Wisconsin massacre, in “Why History Matters” (August 6, 2012), Scot Nakagawa revisits the context of war, deeply imbedded structural racism and white racial fears that spurred the WWII internment of Japanese American and Alaska Natives:
The color of the demons under our beds are still black and brown. And when racism and fear combine, particularly in times of crisis, the mixture is too often lethal. Lethal to our rights, our freedoms, even to our lives.
That we continue to be afraid of those we label The Other was made tragically evident by this weekend’s shooting at a Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. The shooting resulted in the deaths of 6 people. And according to Mark Potok and the Southern Poverty Law Center, the suspected shooter is “a frustrated neo-Nazi who had been the leader of a racist white-power band.”
[ . . . ]
History tells us that these phenomena are connected. History also shows that encouragement of bigotry in the form of scapegoating, racist pandering, and fear mongering on the part of visible mainstream leaders makes matters worse and may even be the glue the holds all the other trends together – word to Michele Bachman.
And Harsha Walia writes that “Hate Crimes Always Have A Logic: On The Oak Creek Gurudwara Shootings” (August 6, 2012):
White supremacy is fostered, cultivated, condoned, and supported–in the education system and mainstream corporate media, from military missions to the prison industrial complex.
The crimes of white supremacists are not exceptions and do not and cannot exist in isolation from more systemic forms of racism. People of colour face legislated racism from immigration laws to policies governing Indigenous reserves; are discriminated and excluded from equitable access to healthcare, housing, childcare, and education; are disproportionately victims of police killings and child apprehensions; fill the floors of sweatshops and factories; are over-represented in heads counts on poverty rates, incarceration rates, unemployment rates, and high school dropout rates. Colonialism has and continues to be shaped by the counters of white men’s civilizing missions. The occupation of Turtle Island is based on the white supremacist crime of colonization, where Indigenous lands were believed to be barren and Indigenous people believed to be inferior. The occupation of Afghanistan has been justified on the racist idea of liberating Muslim women from Muslim men. Racialized violence has also always targeted places of worship–the spiritual heart of a community. In Iraq, for example, the US Army accelerated bombings of mosques from 2003-2007 with targeted attacks on the Abdul-Aziz al-Samarrai mosque, Abu Hanifa shrine, Khulafah Al Rashid mosque and many others. And so I repeat: the patterns of hate crimes have a sense, have a logic, have a structure – they are part of a broader system of white supremacy.
[. . . ]
Media reports also note that Page was a psychological operations specialist in the Army, responsible for developing and analyzing intelligence that would have a “psychological impact on foreign populations.” While racialized cultures and religions are consistently held to task, the culture and system of white supremacy is never scrutinized by the state or media. What breeds white power movements? Who funds white power groups? How are people recruited into neo-Nazi groups? What is the connection between white supremacist groups and state institutions like the Army? These are the questions that will never be interrogated because whiteness is too central, too foundational to the state and to this society to unsettle.
White supremacy, as a dominant and dominating structuring, actually necessitates and relies on a discourse that suggests that hate crimes are random. Otherwise, whites might just have to start racially profiling all other young and middle-aged white men at airports or who are walking while white. Whites might have to analyze what young white children are being taught about in schools and in their homes about privilege and entitlement. Whites might have to own up to and seek to repair the legacy of racialized empire, imperialism, and settler-colonialism that has devastated and continues to destroy the lives and lands of millions of people across the globe.
Whites might actually have to start distancing themselves from white supremacy.
Now, that’s a fresh idea.