[Ever since the criminal/hate massacre of Sikhs took place on August 5, 2012, in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, the shock and anger at that horrifying murderous act by a white-supremacist gunman has fueled an intense discussion and debate within the Sikh community and South Asians, and among all who stand in solidarity and in common humanity with the targeted Sikh community. Some have argued that Sikhs should embrace the FBI and other instruments of government repression, and try to get the FBI to take action against fascist attackers. Others have said that Sikhs should draw more closely together, and join forces with all victims of white supremacy, of racial profiling, of Islamophobia and of xenophobia, in more determined and forceful community alliances. While some have argued combining these methods, others have argued the incompatability of these two strategies, because of the key role the FBI has played in both supporting and initiating attacks (racial and Islamophic profiling programs) on targeted communities and activists of (non-white) color and (non-Cristian) religion. The following is from a Sikh blog, The Langar Hall. — Frontlines ed.]
September 18th, 2012
Over the last month since the horrific tragedy in Oak Creek, WI, Sikh civil rights organizations and other leaders in the community seem to have come to a consensus on what our collective demand should be to move forward — getting the FBI to track hate crimes against Sikhs. A few weeks ago Valarie Kaur wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post entitled, “Sikhs deserve the dignity of being a statistic,” in which she convincingly articulates the basic argument that many are making:
The FBI tracks all hate crimes on Form 1-699, the Hate Crime Incident Report. Statistics collected on this form allow law enforcement officials to analyze trends in hate crimes and allocate resources appropriately. But under the FBI’s current tracking system, there is no category for anti-Sikh hate crimes. The religious identity of the eight people shot in Oak Creek will not appear as a statistic in the FBI’s data collection. As a Sikh American who hears the rising fear and concerns in my community, I join the Sikh Coalition and Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF) in calling for the FBI to change its policy and track hate crimes against Sikhs.
We’ve all probably gotten numerous action alerts to sign petitions, call our Senators, and, most recently, to attend tomorrow’s Senate hearing on hate violence in Washington, DC. The Sikh Coalition’s email advisory today about tomorrow’s hearing begins, “Be Present and Request that the FBI Track Hate Crimes Against Sikhs.”
It seems like a sensible request. The FBI is a government agency responsible for investigating hate crimes, so of course they should be looking specifically at attacks targeting Sikhs and have a category to enable them to do so. While I am sympathetic to this cause, I am a bit troubled by it, or have some questions about it, as well. Continue reading