More than two years after advocacy groups began urging the Federal Bureau of Investigation to track hate crimes against Sikhs, Hindus, and Arabs, the federal agency announced last week that it will finally start doing so in 2015.
The Sikh Coalition in New York has been on the leading edge of this campaign, and welcomed the changes. “Most of all, the Sikh Coalition is extremely grateful to and inspired by the Sikh American community, especially the community in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, for emailing, calling, and speaking with government officials and the media about the need to track hate crimes against Sikhs,” the coalition said in a press release.
As the coalition points out, this change comes ten months after six worshippers were massacred at a gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, by neo-Nazi Wade Michael Page. Only a few months later in New York, Erika Menendez pushed a man to his death on a subway platform because she believed he was Muslim or Hindu. “I pushed a Muslim off the train tracks because I hate Hindus and Muslims ever since 2001 when they put down the twin towers I’ve been beating them up,” she reportedly said to police.
Tracking hate crimes is the first step toward designing policy to help prevent them. Countering the prejudice that nurtures them is another. In the wake of this heinous act, Peter Brimelow, an undeclared member of the advisory board of the Federation for American Immigration Reform and editor of VDARE.com, grimly asked “What are Sikhs doing in Wisconsin anyway?” Page’s fellow neo-Nazi JT Ready, Islamophobe Anders Breivik, and FAIR representative (and minuteman) Shawna Forde had all been nurtured by a movement before committing their despicable acts of murder. In the same subway system in which Menendez pushed a man to his death for being Muslim, Pamela Geller’s anti-Muslim ads boasted “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man.”
While these acts of unspeakable hate shock the conscience, it should shock us more that they are so frequent. Bigotry is a problem that must be dealt with directly. Congratulations to those who fought so hard for this important step toward justice.