JIM CREES: Ignorance grows and blooms

Just when you think we might be making some progress ...

Last Sunday, a gunman busted into a Sikh temple is Oak Creek, Wisconsin, and started shooting. A white supremacist.

By the end of the rampage, six people were dead and more were wounded.

The attack on Sikh worshippers is horrifying. Unfortunately, it was something this religious group of people had been worrying about for a decade. Since the events of Sept.. 11, 2001, Sikhs have been pretty regularly attacked - verbally and physically - for being Muslims.

One of the sad results of a frightening ignorance by far too many people in these United States is that Sikhs around the county have been forced to explain away their religion to generally white neighbors not by talking about the positive aspects of their faith, but rather by pleading, “We’re not Muslims!”

Sikhs aren’t Muslims.

Never have been. Never will be.

What is most odd about the situation is that there’s no reason in the world that Muslims should be attacked either.

A member of the Islamic faith is no more responsible for the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, than any random white, Midwestern, Christian is responsible for the attack on the Oklahoma City federal building. (Timothy McVey was white after all.)

Still, the Sikhs are forced into trying to mitigate violence and attacks on their places of worship around the country not by explaining what they are all about, but rather by telling people who they aren’t ...Muslims.

How sad.

The real trouble for Sikh Americans is that way too many good, white, Anglo-Saxon, Christian folks just can’t differentiate between the two groups - Muslims and Sikhs.

They both wear turbans.

Welllllllll ...actually, that’s not true.

Most Muslim men don’t necessarily wear any kind of headgear whatsoever. Not a turban. Not a fedora. Not a baseball cap.

Sikhism is a faith that was founded some 500 years ago and is largely centered in India. A monotheistic religion, Sikhism has well over 25 million adherents around the globe, (that’s more than there are Southern Baptists, by the way.) Practicing Sikhs often cover their heads with turbans. They generally do not cut their hair, and often do not trim their beards.

I’m not going to try and educate the jury as to the religious intricacies of the Sikh faith. Suffice it to say that as a result of generally having noticeable signs of their faith, Sikhs are easy to spot, and very easy targets.

Sikhs, including some formerly from Big Rapids and some acquaintances in Grand Rapids, have reported an increase in verbal and physical attacks since the 2001 terrorist attacks.

“Go back where you belong, you towel heads!’ is a “classic.” Trouble is, “where you belong” is most often right here - amongst all the rest of us. A huge percentage of the Sikhs living in the United States were born in the United States.

The Sikh killings in Wisconsin really are indicative of a bigger problem ...ignorance.

And this ignorance seems to be getting worse rather than better.

Just recently, a young Bible-believing couple, Charles and Te’Andrea Wilson, wanted to get married in the church they attended regularly - the First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs, Miss.

The couple believed in Baptist family values. They believed in receiving the blessing of the church as they began their married life.

The thing is ...the Wilsons are black. Their home church in Mississippi is predominantly white.

Some members of the church objected to a black couple being married in their church. The pastor, (who originally agreed to perform the ceremony), folded out of concern that he could be fired if he performed the wedding service.

Rev. Stan Weatherford told a local TV station, “I didn’t want to have a controversy within the church, and I didn’t want a controversy to affect the wedding of Charles and Te’Andrea. I wanted to make sure their wedding day was a special day.”

And ...they didn’t get married in their “home” church. The Wilson’s moved their wedding ceremony to a predominantly black church.

Special day, indeed.

And then ...

Down in Ohio, a Cincinnati apartment manager wanting to keep a black child out of the complex swimming pool, posted a “Whites Only” sign on the on the gate.

The landlord claimed the child’s hair was fouling up the filtration system - or some such silliness.

So, up went the sign - “Public Swimming Pool, White Only” - at the entrance to the pool.

The family ended up moving out of the complex to avoid further and continuing discrimination ...in Ohio!

In her “defense” the landlord told ABC television “...if I have to stick up for my white rights, I have to stick up for my white rights. It goes both ways.”

So, there you have it. Sikhs get killed for wearing head-covering. They end up begging for relief while having to explain, “We’re not Muslims” which is just as bad as being forced to save your life to by claiming you’re not a Jew, a liberal, or any other “despicable” category of people.

A Christian African American couple can’t get married in a Mississippi church - even if they’re not gay!

And little girls can’t go swimming ...because they’re black.

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