Something happened this past Sunday. You may have heard about it, but you probably aren’t talking about it. A lone man, armed with a handgun, walked into a Sikh temple and began shooting people; 7 of them to death (including himself). So before I continue, I want to take a moment to express my heartfelt sympathies for the families of those killed.
The reason I’m writing this is because this story barely made the news. And while there are updates and the news does sort of cover it, it’s not getting anywhere near the coverage that the Aurora shooting got. So, I started comparing the two events in my mind and thinking about what we can do to keep this stuff from happening over and over again. I know I just talked about this – I talked about Aurora, but to be fair, I think there’s still a lot to discuss – but please hear me out. I think it’s important.
My first questions is: Why isn’t this being covered the way Aurora was? For over a week after the shooting in Colorado, Aurora news dominated the front page of just about every news media outlet. Yahoo had 3 or 4 spots in it’s news story slider dedicated to various aspects of the shooting. This week we have, “Star Trek Mansion“, “Mysteries at the County Fair“, “Woman Turns 555 Ikea Blue Bags Into Dress” and “Meet Kourtney K.’s Baby“, just to name a few. There are quite a few about the Olympics, which is understandable, but the Sikh Temple shooting isn’t on the slider at all. It is in the “News” section, but honestly, I think something of this magnitude is important enough to be more prominently displayed. CNN did a somewhat better job, giving the “Massacre” it’s own section, but it’s not prominently displayed for easy navigation. Fox News didn’t do any better. On their site, a story about political ads is the feature while the shooting is given the same importance as a story about country music singer Randy Travis’ DUI Arrest. Yeah, because apparently the personal life of a washed-up entertainer is as important as the deaths of 6 innocent people.
And where are the ribbons? Aurora had a few. You know what I’m talking about because my piece on Aurora used one of them. Where are the public memorials? Not like the one above, I mean the kind of prayer meetings and public announcements of support for the Sikh community. I’m not saying there hasn’t been any, I’m saying that Aurora was compared to 9/11… the Temple shooting was treated like just another hate crime.
My next question, and it will likely not be answered with any satisfaction is: How can we keep this from happening again? I don’t know that there is a way, honestly. I already went over my feelings about gun control in my piece on Aurora (I’m generally opposed to it – though I am for tight control of assault rifles and other military grade weapons). Making guns illegal doesn’t prevent bad people from getting them. In this case, the gunman was affiliated with hate groups, who probably already have lots of channels for acquiring things illegally. As I said with Aurora, if this man was intent on causing harm to people, he would have found another way to do it. Then we’d be talking about banning THAT thing. There’s no quick and easy solution here. I do know that whatever solution we come to, it will not include making guns illegal. To do so would require a paradigm shift in the way Americans think; something I don’t foresee happening.
It concerns me that we don’t care more about the Temple shooting, both generally as a people, and more as a community of geeks. The conspiracy theorist in me (it’s time we admit we all have one) thinks that the only reason Aurora was so shocking and so well covered is because we don’t really know why it happened. We expect people from hate groups to commit hate crimes, and that expectation comes with a certain amount of apathy. There were children involved in Aurora, as well, which makes it worse from an emotional standpoint – unless your a Sikh. But what of the reason we don’t care is because, deep down, we don’t see the Sikh’s as “US”. And there is a percentage of people who will read this (hopefully a very small one) that have no pity or empathy for the Sikh because they are not “US”. For the past decade, we’ve had an alarming trend of disliking, ignoring or otherwise not paying attention to anything that isn’t “US”. Even the recent Olympics broadcast has been edited for our consumption, with NBC deflecting critics by saying “we’re focusing on what Americans want to see.” Of course, by doing so, the miss moments like members of the North and South Korean teams shaking hands – moments that are iconic and significant.
Science Fiction doesn’t hold any answers to this. We can’t imagine our way out of a problem like this one. The Sikh Temple shooting seems to be simply about hate – something of which we’ve become far too accommodating. I don’t have a solution. I wish I did. What I do know is that is starts with us. Each and every one of us – Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Jew, Black, White, Asian… human. We are all the same and when we attack each other, it diminishes us all. Hatred stems from ignorance. Ignorance of the fact that Aryans (academics call them Indo-Iranians or Indo-Europeans) – the so-called “master race” that Hitler and the Nazis venerated – came from India. That’s right, natives of India are Caucasian, despite their dark skin and hair.
So the “white-supremacist”, because of his hatred and fear of other races, killed 6 people of his own race.
Irony has a new poster boy.