The nation witnessed another incident of right-wing domestic terrorism yesterday, when a suspected white supremacist killed 7 people at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. This is only the latest in the suffering of the Sikh-American community in the United States, which has endured discrimination for over 10 years since 9-11. Sikhs are continuously mistaken for Muslims because of the turban head scarves that they wear, though they are followers of an Indian religion dating back to the 15th century.
The gunman, who was shot and killed by a police officer before he did even more damage, was identified as a white supremacist from his tattoos:
Tattoos on the body of the slain Sikh temple gunman and certain biographical details led the FBI to treat the attack at a Milwaukee-area temple as an act of domestic terrorism, officials said Sunday [...]
A federal official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media refused to say whether the gunman was thought to belong to a hate group or some other violent group because the investigation was still unfolding [...]
The designation of “domestic terrorism” under the FBI’s rubric — which was not applied to the Aurora, Colo., theater shooting — implies a political agenda. The FBI defines terrorism as “the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.”
Sadly, this is just one of many right-wing domestic terrorism incidents I can list off the top of my head. From James Adkisson shooting up a Unitarian Universalist Church in Tennessee, to the James von Brunn shooting at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, to the J.T. Ready shooting this past May in Arizona, the list just gets larger and larger. And those are the successful ones; there are plenty of unsuccessful or thwarted incidents, the most famous recently being the nail bomb at the Spokane, Washington Martin Luther King Day parade, which led to the arrest of neo-Nazi Kevin Harpham.
Early on in the Obama Administration, conservatives bullied the Department of Homeland Security into retracting a report on right-wing extermism. And yet the incidents keep happening, over and over and over. I assume it would have been nice to have a profile of the types of people who would engage in such violence. But we can’t have useful things.
The fringe element that has been part of American society for decades has become pushed further and further into the mainstream, as a cause of Republican transmitters picking up on and using their rhetoric. They will never scream louder than when disavowing their culpability in incidents like this.
The gunman used a semi-automatic handgun, according to police reports. Wisconsin just passed a law allowing for concealed carry of a handgun with a license. And Wisconsin allows open carry without a license.