In a rare coincidence, readers of The Hindu got to read two contrasting editorials on August 7. The editorial “In pursuit of life” highlighted the achievement of the United States in successfully landing the rover, Curiosity, on the surface of Mars. Truly a milestone in the U.S.’s space programme!
On reading “America’s gun psychosis,” the other editorial, one could not but feel that at least some Americans have not been able to get rid of their hatred for the ethnic minorities. Sunday’s shooting incident in the Oak Creek gurdwara in Wisconsin has surely diminished the Curiosity success story and brought down the prestige of the country. Although it can be argued that it is the free gun culture that is responsible for the violence in the U.S., the root causes for such hate crimes are disgruntlement and the growing mistrust among the American youth.
The U.S. has, no doubt, increased its security measures to keep terrorism out after 9/11. The absence of any terror attack since and the killing of al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden stand testimony to its success in achieving its objective. It is now time for it to turn its attention to the growing violence within the country. A country that calls itself a land of immigrants should treat the issue of violence against ethnic groups seriously.
The right-wing argument that potential victims need guns to protect themselves is specious and bizarre. During the Wild West era, the state lacked control over law and order and people needed guns for protection. But, today, the U.S. calls itself the biggest democracy, a beacon of freedom and claims it is safe for all.
The Oak Creek gurdwara incident could well be a targeted hate crime. Revisiting liberal gun laws, however, may not be the solution to such crimes. The U.S. claims that “religious freedom and religious tolerance are fundamental pillars” of its society.” 9/11 shook these pillars and the average American is genuinely suspicious. The need of the hour is to convince the Americans that only a lunatic fringe follows Osama bin Laden and his hate philosophy. Leaders of the Sikh community in the U.S. should initiate a programme to generate awareness about their identity.
Col. C.V. Venugopalan (retd.),