The United States continues to be grappled by hate crimes, with the most recent one being reported from the state of California, from a place called Orangevale. California houses one of the largest Sikh populations in the United States, yet, a Gurdwara at Orangevale was targeted by ‘white supremacists’ this Monday.
The incident took place a day after the Guru Maneyo Granth Gurdwara was officially inaugurated when people saw the words “White Power” and a swastika sign graffitied on the property. The graffiti was removed later during the day. The Sikh American Legal Defence and Education Fund, the oldest civil rights and advocacy organisation of the community, condemned the defacement of the Gurdwara, with Harbans Singh Sraon describing the action as that which reeks of ignorance and is indicative of people who do not want to learn anything.
We have received information about apparent white nationalist vandalism outside of an Orangevale, CA gurdwara. We are in touch with community leaders to provide the appropriate resources in ensuring that the perpetrators are held accountable, and we will provide updates soon. pic.twitter.com/G9Ptbxttnm
— Sikh Coalition (@sikh_coalition) January 13, 2020
Such attacks on the Sikh community and Gurdwaras have only risen in the USA after the 9/11 attacks, due to the misconception that Sikhs were actually Muslims as the Americans failed at differentiating in the headgear of the two. In 2004, another Gurdwara in California was defaced with the words “It’s Not Your Country”, an obvious message to the Sikhs that they were not equal citizens. In 2012, a mass shooting took place in a Gurdwara at Oak Creek, Wisconsin. The news had shocked the world, as a place of worship was brought under such assault by a maniac.
While the United States rubs whatever little democracy it has against all other nations, it conveniently chooses to ignore its own backyard. In June this year, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo went on to lecture India on religious freedom and its importance, while in New Delhi. The same Pompeo would dare not utter a single word against religious hate crimes in his country. Would his boss dare fidget with the archaic gun laws of their land? I think not.
Only last month, a redundant Congressional commission, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) had condemned the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 of the Narendra Modi government stating that it is ‘deeply troubled’ by the bill and had recommended sanctions on Home Minister Amit Shah and other ‘principal leadership’ if the legislation successfully passed both the houses of Indian Parliament. This same commission had played a crucial role in ensuring a denial of visa to Narendra Modi after the 2002 riots because in their sound wisdom, India’s current Prime Minister was complicit in the violence back then. This same Commission would not dare to speak up against rampant hate crimes within the territory of the United States.
The United States, as much as it would like to be the godfather of all modern democracies, must recognize that their backyard is at fire too, and requires their immediate attention. Instead, what they continue to do is take the moral high ground and sermonize countries like India on concepts which they have always refused to imbibe themselves.