Vol. 7    No. 16
AUGUST 9, 2012

The Capital City Hues
(608) 241-2000

Subscription Information:
The Capital City Hues
PO Box 259712
Madison, WI 53725
($45 a year)
Contact Number:
(608) 241-2000
Advertising: Claire G. Mendoza


Jonathan Gramling
Publisher & Editor

Clarita G. Mendoza
Sales Manager

Contributing Writers
Rita Adair, Ike Anyanike, Paul
Barrows, Alfonso Zepeda
Capistran, Theola Carter, Fabu,
Andrew Gramling, Lang Kenneth
Haynes, Eileen Cecille Hocker,
Heidi Pascual,  & Martinez White
Reflections/Jonathan Gramling
                           Senseless Sikh Tragedy
When I came home on Sunday after enjoying my family reunion and getting reacquainted with some family
members, I went on the Internet to find out what was going on in the world. As I perused CBSNEWS.COM,
something about the Sikh community caught my eye, something about a shooting in Wisconsin.

I was filled with a sense of dread as I waited for the screen to change to the story on the shooting. Were
people from the Madison area harmed? What was the extent of the killing? Why could it have possibly

As the article came up on the screen, I was momentarily relieved. While we feel anguish when a tragedy like
this happens to anyone, I felt relief that it had happened in Milwaukee so that none of the Madison Sikhs whom
I knew had been involved.

Yet this was so horrific to know that a gunman had walked into a gurdwara of defenseless people preparing to
worship was inconceivable.

Over the past six years, I have had the privilege of writing several articles on Madison’s Sikh community and
count several as friends. One was of a wedding that was held inside and outside of a hotel on Madison’s west
side. It was such a gay and splendid event. People’s smiling faces, especially that of the father of the groom
shall be permanently etched in my mind.

A ballroom in the hotel had been converted into a gurdwara where the wedding ceremony took place. All of us
removed our shoes and put on head gear. It was a challenge taking photos as I had the desire to be respectful
and discrete while being naturally driven to take photos of the beauty and splendor that surrounded me.
I was awed by the Sikh commitment to family. Although the son was a doctor, he still lived in the house of his
parents and at least for the time being, the bride — herself a doctor — and the groom would continue to live
with the grooms parents. The Sikhs held onto the values of their home country India while fully becoming a
partaking of community life in Madison. Many were doctors and shop keepers.

They prized excellence and advancement. Yet the Sikh religion called upon them to be “classless” when
practicing their faith.

I was privileged again to attend the dedication of the Madison area’s gurdwara. People’s gowns and turbans
were beautiful in their multicolored radiance. And as people entered the gurdwara, the class and
socioeconomic distinctions of the outside world were left at the door. Everyone was treated as a brother or
sister and a peer regardless of how successful they were in the outside world. The gurdwara was a spiritual
place of equals.

And after the dedication ceremony, there was, of course, a feast that had been prepared by the members. No
one, visitor or gurdwara member, ever left hungry. The Sikhs were and are a generous people.

The Sikhs are also a people of peace. So it was inconceivable to me how this could have happened. Certainly
no one connected with the gurdwara brought it down on himself.

And as the information came out, we found that the shooter was a neo-Nazi, a hater who may have mistaken
the Sikhs for Muslims, an equally repulsive thought.

And it brought me back to thoughts of my family reunion. Afterwards I found out that one of my cousins had
circulated some stuff that while not violent depicted “White” people has a victimized lot. As our world
becomes more multicultural, as more and more people are able to pursue life, liberty and happiness without
the constraint of race and status, there are “White” folks who feel threatened because they are losing their
“white privilege” and feel threatened because things and jobs are not, de facto, reserved for them first.

I can’t help but feel that it is this kind of fervor that has driven some of the opposition against President Barack
Obama. The day after he was inaugurated, they didn’t say that they needed to get the Democrats out of office.
They said they needed to get President Obama out of office as if a successful Obama presidency would
undermine the whole notion of “White Superiority.”

During these poor economic times when people start to feel that what others have has been taken away from
them, it seems that people like the shooter at the Sikh gurdwara become emboldened. It’s like this is the last
stand of “White Privilege.”

All of us are harmed by these notions regardless of our cultural heritage. Empowered ignorance is such a
destructive force.

Our hearts go out to the Sikh community. We stand with them. Each of us needs to become better educated
about each other. It is only knowledge that can drive the forces of ignorance from our land and our minds. This
work is never done. What can happen to one can happen to all. None of us is immune from the violence of hate.