By Tamara on August 06, 2012

The tragic death of six Sikhs in suburban Milwaukee sheds light on the ugly ways that bigotry works.
         Since 9/11, Sikhs have often been the target of hate crimes.
         Balbir Singh Sodhi, a gas station owner in Arizona, was the first such casualty. He was murdered just four days after 9/11 because, his murderer said, he was “dark-skinned, bearded and wore a turban.”
         The hate crimes against Sikhs have continued over the last decade. Sikh temples have been vandalized, and according to Representative Joseph Crowley (D-NY), two Sikh men were murdered last year in hate crimes.
         This is how cultural racism operates: anyone who bears the markers of the “enemy” must necessarily be guilty. For members of the Sikh community, this bizarre attitude is baffling. Some have gone out of their way to insist that Sikhs are not Muslim and should therefore not be targeted in these ways.
         Yet, the horrific murders in Wisconsin should teach us that racism is about the dehumanization of an entire group of people: It is the worst kind of guilt by association.
         If the Sikh community is not to blame for the events of 9/11, neither is the Muslim community.
         It was not Islam that caused the 19 hijackers to carry out the attacks. It was the nihilistic political views of those particular assassins.
         Similarly, it was not something intrinsic to white American males that precipitated this attack on the Sikhs in Wisconsin. It was the neo-Nazi attitudes of this particular white gunman.
         Page was a white supremacist and the leader of a white-power band named End Apathy, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. He was even supposed to have had a tattoo of 9/11 on his upper right arm.
         The context for this crime is the climate of prejudice in the United States that “the war on terror” has created.
         Central to “the war on terror” is the ideology of Islamophobia. Rep. Peter King (R-NY) has held hearings hyping the risk of radical Islam here at home. Rightwing politicians such as Michele Bachmann and Newt Gingrich have also used reckless rhetoric targeting the entire Muslim American community.
         In U.S. military policy, Islamophobia allows the United States to carry out drone strikes against Muslim men perceived to be terrorists in several countries around the world with impunity. Many victims of these “kill lists” are not terrorists, but innocent people.
         Dehumanization and guilt by association enable the United States to kill innocent people in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen.
         Dehumanization and guilt by association enable a killer to gun down worshipers in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.
         As we mourn the latest killing, we need to denounce this dehumanization and guilt by association. They are the handmaidens of the murderer.

Deepa Kumar is the author of Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire. She is associate professor of Media Studies and Middle Eastern Studies at Rutgers University.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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