OTHER VOICES

Guns and sickness

Posted Aug. 12, 2012, at 5:07 p.m.

As usual, the details are sad and sickening. Wade Michael Page showed up at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wis., just as volunteers were gathering to cook lentils, yogurt and rice pudding for the faithful. He killed six men and women — ranging in age from 39 to 84 — injured three more, and shot a police officer who tried to aid one of the victims.

Now all we know about Page is his short and nasty biography — discharged from the Army for being drunk on duty and other misconduct; musician in a variety of white power bands — with names such as Definite Hate and End Apathy — and the trail of tears and terror he left behind. And once again, too many of our elected leaders take to the microphones for expressions of grief and compassion, but with too little resolve to confront the ready availability of weapons to the deranged that is the a common element in these massacres.

Far more inspiring is the response of the Sikh temple’s surviving members. … The Sikh community in the United States is small but growing, prosperous and peaceful. Unfortunately there’s been a lengthy record of attacks against Sikhs since 9/11; that they have responded to this insensible hatred with calm, dignity and patriotism is one of America’s great unsung success stories.

Once again, Americans must ask themselves: Is there something about our culture that is causing the isolation and rage behind these mass killings? We do know this: Guns may not be the source of this sickness, but, once again, they have magnified its lethality.

San Francisco Chronicle (Aug. 7)

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