Hate Crime Reporting Shouldn’t Ignore American Sikhs
The authors present a highly valid argument in that all anti-Sikh violence is not due to misplaced hate against Muslims. White Supremacists hate everyone who isn’t white, and the even definition of who is white gets exceedingly slim among some hate groups.
First is the notion of “mistaken identity” — the assumption that Mr. Page, who had long-established ties to radical right-wing groups, mistook Sikhs for Muslims, his presumed target. The second is the government’s failure to accurately measure the extent of anti-Sikh violence in America — a gap that must be remedied.
Whatever the roots of Mr. Page’s hatred, it is wrong to assume that every attack against a Sikh is really meant for a Muslim. That assumption overlooks the long history of discrimination and hatred directed at Sikhs in America.
Indeed, the first documented race riot targeting American Sikhs occurred in 1907 in Bellingham, Wash. Their distinct religious identity (uncut hair, turban, beard) has historically marked Sikhs, particularly men, as targets for discrimination, both in their homeland in South Asia and in the various communities of the Sikh diaspora. And of course, 9/11 brought about a surge in fear and persecution directed at Sikhs, Muslims and other minorities with ties to the Middle East and South Asia.
There is also the question of whether white supremacist groups have specifically targeted American Sikhs. The authorities in Southern California, where Mr. Page was active in the white-power music scene, are investigating whether he was involved in the killings of two elderly Sikh men in Elk Grove, Calif., in March 2011. Just after the temple shooting, a Sikh man in Oak Creek, Wis., reported that a white man had pulled up next to him in a pickup truck, shaped his hands like a gun, and pretended to shoot him six times before stating, “We want to kill all of you.”