Über Desi

Keeping it real, desi ishtyle

Wisconsin Sikh Temple shootings

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News first started trickling in, mostly via Twitter, around noon East Coast time about a shooting incident in a Sikh temple in Milwaukee, WI. My first reaction, unfortunately tempered from years such attacks directed at Sikhs, was that this was one of those post 9/11 incidents, where the perpetrator attacks Sikhs thinking they belong to the Taliban or Mujahideen. Based on current report, this may very well turn out to be the case.

Initial reports were of multiple gunmen taking hostages at the temple. But when the dust settled, it turned out to be a lone gunman, Wade Michael Page, ex-Army and alleged skinhead. The first responding cops exchanged fire with the gunman; one was hurt and the other killed the gunman, but not before Page killed 6 others on the temple premises. These cops, “prevented a tragic situation from becoming even worse”. Satwant Kaleka, the temple’s president succumbed to injuries he sustained while trying to restrain the attacker, perhaps saving more lives.

Now on to the (American) media coverage of the situation, CNN had some decent updates about the situation itself but the reporters and anchors showed an appalling lack of knowledge about Sikhs, the worlds 5th largest religious group. For some reason, the CNN reporters and anchors were strangely defensive, almost hostile, to the victims’ and their families’ suggestions that this could be one of those typical post 9/11 hate incidents directed towards Sikhs. Additionally, CNN anchors and reporters, played thought police, insisting that this incident should not be classified as a terrorist incident (the FBI later classified it as domestic terrorism) and CNN anchors also were quite emphatic that this was not the time for debate on issues like gun control and hate crimes (the two major issues that most likely led up to this carnage). Having said that among cable news outlets, CNN was the one with the most coverage of the incident.

Fox News, when they were not discussing topics like “Liberal Media attacks against Mitt Romney”, had intermittent coverage of the incident. Even with lesser coverage, Fox still managed to commit a faux pas as one the reporters asked a member of the Sikh temple if there had been any “anti-Semitic acts in the past against the Sikh community”. MSNBC, the other media outlet, was busy covering the Olympics and had breaking updates now and then, but largely failed in it’s mission as a “news channel”.

The other troubling fact on the media coverage was the fact they kept mentioning that this was “misdirected hate” aka “hate directed towards Muslims but incorrectly targeting Sikhs” which leads one to believe that targeting Muslims would be “normal”, which speaks to the sad state of affairs in this country.

As of this posting, Wade Michael Page has been identified as ex-Army, 1992-98, (Toma)Hawk Missile repairman, and “psychological operations specialist”. Reports are also starting to flow in that he legally owned the guns he used in this massacre and was the leader of a neo-Nazi band called End Apathy.

Largely, the media coverage and outrage among Americans has been miniscule compared to the ones we witnessed after the movie shooting incidents in Colorado. Call me jaded by post 9/11 America but none of this comes as a shock.

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Fanatics and Heretics

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Ramachandra Guha performs a colonoscopy of sorts on the close-minded, anti-intellectual, cliche-riddled, demagoguery that passes for the ideology of the Hindu extremist outfit, the RSS. [Telegraph] (via @pragmatic_d on Twitter)

It’s a fascinating read with real-life accounts from former RSS-ers and includes some hilarious points, for instance, what was the RSS’s stand during the Quit India movement?

However, the portion that stood out to me most:

“Hindus have lived in India since time immemorial; Hindus are the nation because all culture, civilization and life is contributed by them alone; non-Hindus are invaders or guests and cannot be treated as equal unless they adopt Hindu traditions, culture etc…; the history of India is the history of the struggle of the Hindus for protection and preservation of their religion and culture against the onslaught of these aliens; the threat continues because the power is in the hands of those who do not believe in this nation as a Hindu Nation; those who talk of national unity as the unity of all those who live in this country are motivated by the selfish desire of cornering minority votes and are therefore traitors; the unity and consolidation of the Hindus is the dire need of the hour because the Hindu people are surrounded on all sides by enemies; the Hindus must develop the capacity for massive retaliation and offence is the best defence; lack of unity is the root cause of all the troubles of the Hindus and the Sangh is born with the divine mission to bring about that unity.”

Replace “Hindus” with “White Christians”, “India” with “USA” and “non-Hindus” with “immigrants”,”Muslims” or “any other minority group” in the above paragraph and you have the template of a conservative talk show host in the US. Fascinating, huh?

The Threat level is always Orange

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Hindu Outrage

I started out writing along rant about our resident , omnipresent,self appointed guardian of all things Hindu.
Instead it was just easier to present this visual.

Causes :
Holy Skateboards
Sex -pushing coach
Julia Roberts
The LoveGuru

Lost in translation!

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So this lady goes to a dollar store and buys what she thinks is gift wrapping paper. Comes home and horrors! sees that the red and gold paper is covered with “swastikas”.The local press gets involved and the result is this.

Wrapping paper ( img from wesh.com)

(Image: from wesh.com)
Its pretty obvious that this was some cheap wrapping paper made in India or China and targeted to the Diwali gift market. Post -Diwali, the paper finds its way to the dollar store and creates a sensation. Not helping the situation is the Rabbi quoted in the article:

But Rabbi Rick Sherwin said even if the perceived swastika is a Hindu symbol, he feels it should not be used in our culture out of respect for the horrors the swastika is associated with.

“There should be sensitivity to the awful things that symbol represents,” he said. “The swastika has been outlawed in Germany.”

Personally, I think its time we reclaimed the swastika (the one with the dots and all). I do go out of my way to make sure that no religious icons I display have the symbol overtly in my neighbors faces but this incident is a bit much. Isn’t it time people broadened their horizons a little to recognize that the swastika (in the Hindu form ) is not the same as the horrible symbol of the unforgivable atrocities of the Holocaust?

What do you think?

The White House Diwali

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For the record I’m not for any kind of religious celebrations sponsored by tax payer dollars, but since that appears to be unavoidable I might as well blog about it. (tip Krupali via Über Desi on Twitter)

The Obama White House deserves a lot of credit for sharing their videos on the world wide interwebs via the U-tubes. Penn Masala makes an appearance, and I’m a big fan of them, but their choice of song appears to not jive with the occasion. Barack Obama flanked by a sea of South and East Asian faces launches into a 10 minute monologue ending with “saal mubaraq”. Obama’s South Asian connections need to do a better job providing him with the right word for the occasion “badaai” (congratulations in Hindi) as opposed to “mubaraq” (congratulations in Urdu). Finally, there are Sanskrit prayers by a beaming Hindu priest, who probably earned himself the moniker of “White House vadiyar” or “Obama vadiyar” (priest in Tamil).

Easy as it might be to nitpick the White House Diwali, it’s refreshing to see a performance by Penn Masala, the diya lighting by Barack Obama and shlokas by a Hindu priest, all celebrating Diwali in the White House of all places – 21st century desi ishtyle.

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