Anger and intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding. Intolerance betrays want of faith in one’s cause… says Mahatma Gandhi.
Even as investigators are working to determine Wade Page’s motive for the August 5 shooting at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, what is cause for serious concern is that a great deal of intolerance and hatred for a specific race is growing at an alarming rate in the US.
Page (40), an Army veteran, whose power-band specialized in the lyrics of hate, coldly took the lives of six people and wounded three others when he opened fire with a 9-mm semiautomatic handgun. Officers then shot him to death.
The United States boasts of a tolerant nation where race, religion and prejudice make no difference and where true democratic spirit is always worshipped. However, last Sunday’s incident at Milwaukee made a dent on the country’s image and drew widespread condemnation.
It has been reported that Page was a musician, who became deeply embedded in the white-supremacist music scene. A compilation of Page’s online postings by the SITE monitoring service shows many efforts to promote his bands, which had titles like “Definite Hate” and “End Apathy.” But there were also frequent references to the number 88, which is code for “Heil Hitler,” derived from the position of the letter “H” as the eighth letter of the alphabet, and to “the 14 words” — two 14-word-long supremacist mantras. The first mantra is, “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for White Children.” The second is, “Because the beauty of the White Aryan women must not perish from the earth.”
To some who track the movements of white supremacist groups, the violence was not a total surprise. Page had long been among the hundreds of names on the radar of organizations monitored by the Southern Poverty Law Center because of his ties to the white supremacist movement and his role as the leader of a white-power band called End Apathy. The authorities have said they are treating the shooting as an act of domestic terrorism.
Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, said Page had come to the center’s attention a decade ago because of his lyrics that push far past the boundaries of tolerance. “The music that comes from these bands is incredibly violent, and it talks about murdering Jews, black people, gay people and a whole host of other enemies,” Potok said. He added that in 2000, Page tried to buy unspecified goods from the National Alliance, which Potok described as a neo-Nazi organization that at the time was one of the country’s best financed hate groups.
Throughout world history, we have seen cruel acts of hatred and prejudice. A more recent history of intolerance includes intolerance of race such as slavery and racism in the US, and intolerance of religion such as Holocaust of World War 11.
Tolerance, on the other hand, is the responsibility that upholds human rights and pluralism, democracy and the rule of law. It involves the rejection of dogmatism and absolutism and affirms the standards set out in international human rights instruments.
President Barack Obama has expressed shock and condemned the incident. The Americans have always set an example by upholding human rights. It’s time the US administration took immediate and exemplary steps to get rid of this despicable racism and hate culture.