Srinivas Kuchibhotla, in an undated photo..

The Unfocused Politics of Hate

This past Thursday, Adam Purinton entered a bar in Olathe, Kansas and shot and killed Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32, wounding Alok Madasani, also 32, in the Austins Bar and Grill and injuring a bystander attempting to intervene, Ian Grillot. Monday in Israel, an Israeli Jewish man was sentenced to 11 years for stabbing another Jew whom he mistook for an Arab. In 2012 a gunman entered a Sikh temple in Wisconsin and killed 6 people at prayer before being shot by police in the stomach and then committing suicide. What these crimes have in common is an unfocused hatred and blind rage that intersects with victims

It hardly needs to be stated that America has no war with India, and little to no political rhetoric around India or the Indian people. But Indians are People of Color, and in our current political climate of hate and fear, that was too much for Adam Purinton. It has since been reported that Purinton thought he had shot Iranians. Similarly, Schlomo Haim Pinto, who mistook his fellow Jew for an Arab, and therefore an object of fear and hatred, stabbed Uri Razkan multiple times. Wade Michael Page was a member of several white power hate groups when he attacked the Sikh Temple.

I hardly need to turn to the newspaper for this type of story. At the height of the First Gulf War, I was having my hair cut at a large national chain when the young woman cutting my hair asked if I was Iranian. Iranian, I asked, incredulously. I could not imagine why anyone would ask if I were Iranian at the height of a war between the US and Iraq, but I cautiously answered no. Good, she said as she brandished the straight razor she was using to shave my neck, because if you were Iranian I would have to cut your throat. Repeat-at the height of our first war with IRAQ, she was ready to cut my throat for being from IRAN. Her rage and hatred were strong enough to threaten a patron of her employer, but her rage and hate were not even clear enough to know the difference between to large countries, one of whom we were at war with, and one with whom we were not at war.

These things don’t happen in a vacuum. Politicians, who speak and act for us, lead us there. Trump is preparing an update on his Muslim Ban, but continues to wink and dog-whistle to indicate that in fact he is waging war on all People of Color. Call the Department of Justice and tell them that you know the ‘Travel Ban’ is code for ‘Muslim’ and America doesn’t work that way. Call your representative and remind him or her that the Constitution and the Civil Liberties it identifies are for all Americans, not just some of them. Don’t be fooled into hatred for an enemy that doesn’t exist. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Trump could not have labeled a blank map with the correct names of the seven countries in the travel ban. I am positive that the majority of his followers could not label that map. Call or write your Congressional delegation and tell them that the Travel Ban is both un-Constitutional and un-American.

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