The idiocy of racists never ceases to impress me. No matter how low we set the bar, they find some way to crawl underneath it.
For those of you not familiar, Sikhism is a post-Islamic monotheistic faith, based in India but with a sizable diaspora. They are a completely distinct faith from Islam, with no connection to the various Islamist Middle Eastern regimes threatening world peace, nor to the phenomenon of Islamist terrorism (save, perhaps, as fellow victims thereof). Although I have only socialized with a few Sikhs myself, I have never met an anti-Semite among them.
As I learned of the deplorable attack (carried out, it seems, by a neo-Nazi terrorist; a home-grown scumbag), I thought back to one conversation I’d had with a gentleman of the Sikh faith. It was in a public setting—a post office, I think; not important—several years ago. He saw the yarmulke on my head, and asked: “You’re Jewish?” “Yes,” I replied proudly, noticing the turban atop his head (traditional Sikhs do not cut their hair). He continued: “I am Sikh. Do you know what a Sikh is?” To which I replied that while I was not well-versed in the particulars of the faith, yes, I was familiar with the group as a whole. As a child I grew up next to several Sikh neighbors; fine, upstanding people. He says to me: “You know, my people are like yours. We are a people of quality over quantity.” Indeed.
Those words stuck with me, and took on a whole new level of meaning for me when that house of worship in Wisconsin was attacked.
I recall an incident a few years back, where a convenience store clerk, also Sikh, was murdered by a racist who, because of the fellow’s turban and beard, mistook the victim for a Muslim. Hating and inflicting harm on someone solely based on their race and/or religion is foolish and evil enough. But when you don’t even get the right guy? That’s just a new, epic level of stupid.
The Sikhs are a fellow monotheistic people, and one whose zealots aren’t actively trying to kill us. What’s more, it seems that the people who hate us most, also hate them. I’ve always held by the axiom that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
On behalf of the Jewish Voice, I would like to extend my heartfelt condolences to the victims of the Sikh Temple Shooting and their families. If there’s one group that understands what you’re going through, it’s the Jews.
Should this article find its way into the hands of a member of the Sikh community, please know this: Your fight is our fight.
When religious or racial bigots attack one of us, they attack all of us.