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Shock and Awe Comes Home to Roost: Six Sikhs Killed in Milwaukee

Shock and Awe Comes Home to Roost: Six Sikhs Killed in Milwaukee

By Dennis Loo (8/6/12)

Update: Shooter was former U.S. Army Psych/Ops Specialist:

The gunman suspected of attacking a Sikh temple in Wisconsin and killing six people was a former US Army "psychological operations specialist," the Pentagon said Monday. Wade Michael Page, who was himself shot dead by police during the incident, was a 40-year-old who had served between April 1992 and October 1998, ending his career at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He received his basic training in Fort Sill, Oklahoma before being moved to Fort Bliss in Texas. Fort Bragg, where he finished his career, is home to many of the US Army's airborne units and its Special Operations Command. (From Jakarta Globe, August 6, 2012). 

(Editor's Note: What a surprise! Who would have thought?)

Yesterday, according to initial reports, a white male gunman [Wade Michael Page] opened fire on a Sikh Temple in Milwaukee, killing six people. The gunman was then killed in an exchange of gunfire with police.

I have just submitted for posting to The New York Times' article about this incident, just two weeks after the Aurora, Colorado massacre, this comment:

Guns don't kill people; people unhinged by hate speech pundits kill people.

Further, hate speech is merely the more openly belligerent version of the official, three piece suit logic of the "war on terror" and the politics of blame and scapegoating that have since the 1980s been the dominant discourse of the Republican and Democratic party leadership. While Obama speaks of tolerance, he has presided over the deportation and incarceration of more immigrants than Bush. While he talks of peace, Obama wages war, including a personal presidential "kill list" and raining drones in multiple countries. The ever-widening gap between the wealthiest and the rest of us is justified under the mantra of "everyone for themselves" and no one is expected in these social Darwinist times to have any obligations to others. Why, we're told by these "leaders," it's the American Way. How dare you question that!

The events in Aurora and now Milwaukee are not isolated; they are part of a trend. They will not be solved, unfortunately, only by tightening gun laws. They are the domestic equivalent of drones and wars of occupation, the use of torture, indefinite detention against our "enemies," and the politics of blame and scapegoating. We will not solve these massacres until enough people come to realize the inextricable connection between the Kandahar Massacre of Sgt. Robert Bales and others who assisted him and the killings in Colorado and Milwaukee. They are all of a piece.

From my September 2008 Counterpunch article "Shock and Awe Comes Home to Roost,"

It isn’t only Arabs and Muslims anymore. It isn’t only American citizens who’ve converted to Islam. It’s now American citizens – whatever their religious views – who can be summarily rounded up in pre-emptive actions, charged with terrorism, and tortured – on the grounds that they might do something.

Bush declared “You’re either with us or you’re with the terrorists.” Except our malapropist president has uttered a tautology once again: being part of “us” means being one of the terrorists. It means defending the use of monstrous measures in the name of fighting monsters. As Pogo put it: “We have met the enemy and he is US.”

If the land's very highest authorities claim that any measures against enemies are acceptable, indeed, necessary - including character assassination, torture, bombing, and executive execution - and that due process, reasoned discussion, and tolerance for differences and disagreements are for sissies and traitors, then what else can we expect than that ordinary, credulous, and especially the more unhinged, [and most definitely people like neo-Nazis (which the Southern Poverty Law Center is reporting that Page was)] will act out these bigoted and violent practices themselves? If lawful authority adopts the mentality and practices of vigilantes, then what's to prevent the regular Joe and slightly irregular Joe from doing likewise? Is that not the only reasonable thing to expect to happen? What's the difference between the U.S. military employing free fire zones routinely and shooting at anyone who moves and people like James Holmes and Jared Loughner? And if that's why these individual entrepreneurial killings are happening, then is not the solution to these horrors something that must involve speaking out and mobilizing a determined and eventually mass movement against the very policies and philosophy ("everyman for himself!") that now lead this society? Are not the men and women who pronounce themselves shocked and saddened by the tragedies of these acts of "senseless violence" (Obama, Romney, Clinton, Limbaugh, Beck, O'Reilly, Coulter, et al) and the system that they preside over, promote, and apologize for, most responsible of all?


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