There has been so much violence in our world lately: Aurora, Syria, Oak Creek, Texas A&M… I wonder & fear if we may be becoming immune to the violence, or if we pick & choose where our sympathies lay. I hope I’m wrong on both counts.
On the morning of Sunday, August 5, I jumped onto Twitter to see what everyone was drinking with brunch, & instead saw tweets about a shooting at a Gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. My blood ran cold. I turned on the TV, and flipped through channel after channel, desperately seeking coverage. CNN was the only station that was covering the tragedy, & the ‘facts’ they were spouting about Sikhism were so completely wrong, off-base, that my eyes filled with tears of frustration. Where was all the coverage? The local news covered it with 2 lines of copy, 20 minutes into that evening’s broadcast. My social media streams were silent, with the exception of my South Asian friends.
Why was it that the only people who were talking about the shooting on my Twitter & Facebook feeds were South Asian? Why did it seem like no one cared? Yes, they were Sikhs who were killed in their place of worship, but above all, they were innocent humans… innocent Americans. I’m not Sikh, nor Punjabi, but I am Indian. Do we not factor into the American consciousness?
My Twitter friend Paresh (@pareshg) wrote a post on Facebook that summed up my thoughts, my questions, about the seeming lack of concern & media coverage over the shooting. I asked him if I could share this on my blog, & he agreed. Please, read on. I would love to know your thoughts on the matter.
I’ve been sitting on this because I don’t want to seem incendiary, knee jerking or instigate anything negatively but I’m disappointed in that nobody on my FB ‘friends’ list who is not of South Asian descent even mentioned the shootings in Milwaukee this weekend. Less than 3 weeks ago, I couldn’t get through a single FB Feed page without postings about Aurora where a movie theater got shot up by an idiot who thought he was in a movie. People kept posting “Pray for the victims! God help us all! What kind of a madman does this kind of thing?’ etc.
However, when a place of worship that isn’t a church gets violated by a known alcoholic who got kicked out of the service, was involved with white supremacists & kills 6 people, there’s not a peep. This appalls me. Like the victims in Aurora, the victims in Milwaukee were people who believed in the right to practice their own religion in the safety and sanctity of their own religious building. If you can’t be safe when you pray, what’s the point?
I’m also finding that nobody gave two craps about the mosque arson in Joplin, MO the next day aside from the South Asians who are in my circles. Also note that this mosque was used by the EMS to stage relief efforts when the tornadoes ripped that town to shreds. The Imam volunteered that building as part of the community the congregation lived in. So what is this? Lack of exposure? Lack of empathy? Or a simple matter of – “well, they’re not White or Christian or [insert stereotype here] so it’s not important.”
Interesting social dynamic don’t you think?
CNN – not the most shining beacon of reporting in the world – was the only channel that carried the Milwaukee shootings live on Sunday (poorly). Fox didn’t even bother to flip out except for a ticker. However, ALL channels went live during Aurora and the mass hysteria & overload of emotions in the social networks was apparent & palpable.
So is it that people don’t care? People don’t know? Or people don’t care to know because it’s outside their comfort zone & realm of understanding to appreciate other cultures and religions. But what do I know right? It’s only in the First Amendment of the Constitution of a country I’m yet to be naturalized into. If that’s the case, it’s xenophobic, ethnocentric & feel free to remove me from your friends list.
For the record – my opinion is that it’s not that people have to be White, Black, Brown, Christian, Hindu, or Muslim or any other faith – NOBODY deserves to get shot at (close range, point blank or in the face) by anyone in a civilian setting. Period.