Sikh temple shooting raises questions, offers few answers
It's far too early to write anything especially meaningful about the shooting today at the Sikh temple in Oak Creek. In times like this, our first emotion is shock, followed by mourning for the victims and their families. Then, come the questions.
And it could be a while before we get some answers.
Like everyone else, I'm confused about what transpired this morning, but I know that the national and international eye will turn toward Milwaukee, and it won't be very flattering.
We obviously can't rush to judgment about motives and how this tragedy could have been prevented. But we can begin to think about four questions that will certainly become the focal points as this investigation begins.
1. Was this attack racially motivated? When you hear of a white suspect entering a temple of peaceful Sikhs, who just happen to look a lot like fundamentalist Muslims, one immediately wonders if this was a misguided hate crime. Obviously, had this been a Muslim mosque, it wouldn't have been any better, but it's extra appalling to imagine the scene unfold because someone lumped all people who looked different to him in the same boat. That's the opposite of what America stands for, and even with the shooter apparently dead, justice hasn't been served. This country must step back from the brink. We must unite and not divide. You know how the terrorists win? By allowing fear and hatred to creep into our communities and allow senseless acts of violence to transpire against innocent Americans.
2. When can we talk about gun control? It's too early to speculate how the assailant procured his weapon or weapons, but how many more mass shootings must occur before this country seriously considers the issue of gun control? The Founding Fathers never imagined a country in which assault rifles and bullets purchased online were so readily available. Clearly, stricter gun laws won't stop bad people from doing bad things – but they'll certainly make it harder to inflict mass casualty. When the NRA spins this incident into the lone act of a deranged gunman, remember how very close to home this hits. No one is truly safe in a country where gun control is so lax. No, guns don't kill people, but people with guns do.
3. How many lives did the early responders save with their heroism? Having spent a day with the Milwaukee Police Department and its tactical emergency management training programming, I have a better understanding than most about that unfolded from the police and EMTs side today. The officer who apparently felled the suspect is nothing short of a hero. That word is thrown around too often today, but he has earned it. Let's pray that he pulls through. We should all be thankful for an excellent law enforcement community that can work together in unfolding situations like this.
4. Can we remember that this isn't Milwaukee's fault? Milwaukee isn't the most tolerant place I've ever lived, and its segregation continues to concern me. But if this is the act of a deranged individual, it's just that. Instead of pointing fingers at Milwaukee or Oak Creek, let's instead find inspiration as our area rallying together for peace. I think you'll be warmed to see that while the Sikh community may be one that most of us are unfamiliar with, Milwaukee will embrace the victims and their families as one of their own. While Milwaukee will undoubtedly suffer a black eye because of this heinous incident, let's now show the world that we're a loving, united community that can weep and grow and learn together.
Thank you for a thoughtful and measured response to this terrible incident.
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