It comes as no surprise to us that the alleged gunman who murdered six people at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin has ties to the white supremacist movement. The alleged killer, Wade M. Page, belongs to a neo-Nazi rock band and his name and activity had previously caught the attention of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization that tracks hate groups. Page, 40, is just the latest racist to emerge from the nation’s underground hate movement that has become more prevalent in the age of Internet communication.
Like Tim McVeigh, the Oklahoma City federal building bomber, Page was a member of the military. It is a trait shared with the murderers of a Black couple near Fort Bragg in North Carolina in 1995 and the individual who attempted to plant an explosive on the parade route during Martin Luther King Day in Spokane, Washington. Kevin William Harpham, who received a prison sentence of 32 years for his planting of a bomb on the King Day parade route, had received an honorable discharge from the military. Tragically, our military is attracting racists who then use their military training in weaponry to inflict their hostility upon anyone deemed a threat to their white supremacist worldview. What the nation conveniently forgets in the anger directed towards Muslims in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks is that McVeigh and his conspirator killed children in their cowardly attack.
Most alarming is that just decades after the nation seemingly reached a consensus on the need to eradicate hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan, we are now confronted with a seemingly greater threat. The deadly combination of easy access to firearms, Internet technology that helps spread hateful messages at light speed, and the dumbing down of the citizenry due to disinvestment in public education have all contributed to the emergence of the new hate. Fueling the passion of the Pages and McVeighs is the circle of hate mongering media weasels that take to the radio and television airwaves, and troll the Internet, while purposely spreading misinformation, outright lies and feeding white resentment and anger. And truth be told, the target is not solely African-Americans as Muslims, Jews, Latinos, Asians, and immigrants are all in the cross hairs of these maniacs.
The federal government has to play a more active role in monitoring and weeding out these groups. This is particularly problematic for the Obama administration as the President and Attorney General Eric Holder have become whipping boys for the right. Any effort by the Department of Justice to aggressively disrupt these groups will certainly stir a backlash since their claim to anger is precisely the seemingly upward mobility of non-whites in America. Still, there comes a time when leadership must throw caution to the wind and take a courageous stand. Now is the time for this President to do so. If these groups are allowed to fester and sow seeds of hate to successive generations, our nation will find itself in the exact same place it was in the 1950’s.
This brings us to another point: gun control. Fair-minded Americans need to launch an all-out assault, pun intended, on our nation’s ridiculous gun laws. We are told to do so is a hopeless cause but we remind that the same thing was said 30 years ago about efforts to rein in the tobacco industry. We cannot let the National Rifle Association or the ignorance of those who abuse the Second Amendment to stand in the way of common sense. We don’t need another Columbine, Virginia Tech or Aurora before we come to terms with gun madness in America. Let the NRA and its apologists in Congress bare their bloody hands before the nation and justify easy access to guns in the face of parents who have buried their children, police officers who have seen their colleagues gunned down, and communities that have witnessed mass scale bloodshed. It is time to call these people out and show them for what they are – accomplices to murder.
The next tragedy is right around the corner, on some street in America or college campus or at a public facility or private business. If guns make us safer, as the NRA alleges; we have already failed that test. For all the guns in circulation have not stopped the carnage and has not done anything to deter shootings. The truth is that the only winners in this bloody environment are gun manufacturers, the dues engorged National Rifle Association, and the unethical politicians at the receiving end of gun lobby political contributions.