My heart goes out to the victims and families of the shooting rampage in Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.
The politicization of what is now being investigated as an act of domestic terror began before we learned the perpetrator’s name. American Power has twitter feeds of both the prominent figures on the left and rank-and-file twitterers (or whatever you call them) demanding more gun control and blaming Michele Bachmann. Professor Jacobson reports that “Both CNN and Fox News cut away when the U.S. Attorney took the stage and launched a lengthy speech which sounded like an Obama campaign speech.”
RS McCain has the following to say about the attempt to pin the crime on the right:
The timid defensiveness of some conservatives — who run away screaming the minute they hear the word “racism” spoken aloud — is the exact opposite of political wisdom. Having been so often and so unfairly accused of “hate,” they have internalized their liberal antagonists’ worldview to such a degree that they pre-emptively fear the smear:
“Oh, let’s denounce the crime, then move on and ignore it, because we might be targeted with a guilt-by-association smear attempting to connect us with this tattooed skinhead freak we never heard of until he killed six people.”
Not only is this reaction gutless — needlessly defensive — but it makes conservatives look like shameless political opportunists: If the guy who killed the Sikhs had been an Occupier or an Islamic jihadi, the right-wing blogosphere would have been raising hell. So when the shooter turns out to be somebody categorized as a right-winger, conservatives are not going to score any points for integrity and courage by whining that this is unfair and then trying to ignore it.
So if conservatives slink away in silence after the Oak Creek massacre, we’ll look like a bunch of insincere punks. In truth, we have nothing to fear. I’m pretty sure there is nothing in the Republican Party platform that endorses the random shootings of people who wear turbans, so what the hell is all this scaredy-cat defensiveness about?
I’m pretty sure about it too. Details now emerge about the now dead suspect Wade Michael Page. He described his White Power band End Apathy (cleaver name if there ever was one) the following way:
with roots in old school hardcore punk and metal influences. The music is a sad commentary on our sick society and the problems that prevent true progress.
So, if we take his word for it, Page is a progressive. And the early 20th century Progressives had a fling with fascism, of course. See an excellent post on this subject at The Camp of the Saints. I’m not saying that Page liked contemporary progressives and their race policies, but I’m willing to bet that he despised conservatives even more, given how we insist on being race-blind.
As for “hardcore”, “hardcore punk”, “punk” and “metal” labels, I recall in my wasted youth people complained about SPLC and ADL painting all bands with one broad brushstroke, not distinguishing between the racist and anti-racist skinheads, for instance. The skinhead look didn’t start out as racist, and Punk bands wore swastikas as a commentary on society. However, by the 1990s there were plenty of bands and underground cult figures who deliberately walked the line, at times sounding like bigots, but then explaining why what they said is totally legit. It worked like magic, too: Declare yourself a “Near-Nazi” — impregnate a stripping punk zine editor. Having an SPLC or an ADL file was a badge of honor in that scene. These types are in it for their 15 minutes, and the silent treatment is the best way of dealing with them.
Wade Page, to be sure, was a real life Neo-Nazi, and the watchdog groups do us a service by explaining the nature of his evil. Consider that Page was a 40-year old with a possible substance abuse problem whose band as of two days ago had less than 8000 plays on myspace (and that’s after the news of the murder rampage came out). There is probably a reason why he answered his own call for violence. Having said that, the above-named groups are overgrown and politicized.
Before rushing to blame women representing Minnesota in the United States Congress, we should look at what End Apathy told us about their influences. Topping a list of bands I never heard about (probably because they are White Power bands) End Apathy give credit to:
[Black] Sabbath, Slayer, [Iron] Maiden
Your basic metal bands. Are they responsible for the slaughter? As I recall, in the 80s Ozzy Osborn of Black Sabbath was taken to court when a teenager committed suicide listening to his song “Suicide Solution”. Ozzy was cleared, and we no longer believe that his song, ostensibly about alcoholism, can cause people to shoot themselves. Believing that calls for fiscal responsibility or support for the move of the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem can cause people to go on a rampage is equally ludicrous.
This is not to say that we shouldn’t look for the larger issues that relate to the horrific event. One thing we can do is to listen to the people in the targeted community. There’s been many anti-Sikh hate crimes since 2001, and Sikh themselves feel that the FBI failed to take them seriously. A small anecdote. Five years ago or so we set at a cafe where at the table next to us a man wearing a Sikh turban was talking to a gentlemen in a suit. The Sikh was concerned about murders of Sikh cab drivers, which he felt could be hate crimes. The man he he talked to essentially told him that there is nothing he could do.
UPDATE: Linked by Temple of Mut — Thank you!