Wisconsin Gurdwara Shooting & What It Says About Mainstream American Culture
This week’s media representation demonstrates that Sikhs will always be asked to engage with the world in a nationalist idiom. We will always be asked to reaffirm our Americanness, or be spoken of in a last ditch inclusivist effort. President Obama describes Sikhs as a part of the “broader American family,” which to me raises larger questions about which constituents a more “mainstream” (narrow) American nuclear family might exclude. “Multiculturalism” is a huge part of a problem. Despite its efforts to account for plurality of “cultures” in a “globalizing” world, the word is more than anything a reproduction of the othering logic that minorities have been for years subjected to.
It is just colonialism in a euphemistic disguise.
The word “multicultural” always delegates the minority card, and in its attempts to acknowledge difference, it hierarchizes an already stratified society in such a rigid way so that I know that I am always already forced to state my name and religious bio-data in a digestible form to the mammoth and intransigent hegemon. It is particularly insidious in how it covers its racist and classist attempt to shield a violent, xenophobic ignorance that is (perhaps like God) omnipresent. In addition to saying that I am Sikh (i.e., “I am not Christian), I am also forced to articulate, “I am also American and I am not violent,” to address our naive view towards a binaristic politics that divides the non-West into pro-freedom (Western friendly) and pro-violence (“war on terror” rhetoric). We are never in conversation with others; we are always speaking to others’ fear.
And we also share culpability in propagating this fear. I don’t know how many times I heard “Sikhs are not Muslims” or “Sikhs are confused for Muslim” this week, but that might the most damaging statement of all…
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