Another day, another assault, vicious and unprovoked, on unsuspecting men, women and children who had no reason to be on their guard in the places where they happened to be. There is a weariness that settles in about the mounting losses from mass shootings. Mass murder in a sanctuary comes hard to a nation still absorbing the shock of a massacre in a movie theater.
On Sunday morning, Wade Michael Page, a 40-year-old Army veteran, barged in on Sikh worshippers in Oak Creek, Wis. He shot and killed six, including the founder and president of the temple. Many more will struggle for a long time with the physical and emotional wounds he inflicted.
As always in the aftermath of such deliberate, cold violence, the haunting question is: Why? In this instance, a dark picture is emerging of a crime that likely was fueled by racism and hate.
Investigators searching for motives have linked Page to the corrosive, white supremacist propaganda of the neo-Nazi movement. The leader of a band called End Apathy, Page, who was killed by police at the scene of his crime, allegedly urged, through his music and web postings, violent action to defend white power.
In a worldview in which the enemy is anyone who is not white, those who are perceived to be “other,” racial, ethnic and religious minorities, present an altogether visible target. The Sikhs in Oak Creek may have been mistaken for Muslims, as some have suggested. Muslim or not, their different appearance or belief appears to have been threat enough for Page to stage a horrifying attack, a chilling statement in a diverse country.