Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Aftermath Of Two More Shootings

In my last post I mentioned the July 27 mass shooting in an Aurora, CO movie theater as the latest example of the toll taken by lax US gun laws.  Since then there have been two more shootings that grabbed headlines with thankfully decreasing number of casualties.  Amidst these tragedies I'll talk for a change about some positive aspects, including those that touched us personally.

The Aug. 5 shooting by a white supremacist that claimed 6 Sikh lives in their Milwaukee temple also brought out the good and noble aspects of life and social values in America.  Over 40 people are murdered on average in the US every day, yet the media gave this wide, sympathetic and extended coverage because the crime targeted a specific minority community.   Politicians and leaders of all stripes including Republican VP candidate Paul Ryan and First Lady Michele Obama made it a point to personally visit and console the afflicted community.  President Obama even ordered flags to be flown at half mast to mourn the victims.

Despite some obvious and recurrent cracks in ethnic and religious harmony in India I've been proud of the general secular traditions and systems in the country of my birth.  After coming to the US I've seen that the overall acceptance, tolerance and politeness towards minorities here is of an even higher order.  Some of my Indian friends and relatives perceive racism and profiling that I mentioned on Aug. 10, 2009, a little of which is inevitable since everyone can't be perfect.  Still, it's probably less in the US than anywhere else in the world, and largely offset by sustained outreach to minorities.

After the Sikh temple shootings I got emails of concern and support from half a dozen friends in the US and Canada who know I'm from this community though my wife is Hindu.  While all these friends happened to be Asian (a Chinese and the rest Hindus, one of whom is married to a remarkable Muslim woman) I believe their decades of living here have infused them with additional sensitivity.  Most asked if our family was okay and hoped that we hadn't lost anyone close to us.  Logically speaking they shouldn't have worried.  I know about a couple of hundred Sikhs in the US among the estimated 200,000 to 500,000 living here so the chance of my knowing any of the victims is 1 in 200.  Still, it's their thoughts and sentiments that count.

The other and latest shooting on Aug. 24 outside the Empire State Building involved a single murder followed by police firing in which the gunman was killed and nine bystanders injured.  It was big news mainly because it took place near a national landmark in broad daylight in Manhattan. 

Our daughter Rubina works about a mile away at the Wall Street Journal and has recently taken up a new assignment dealing with social media.  Last Friday she too was sucked into the rapid fact gathering and dissemination as the news broke.  She was also interviewed on camera for the first time to give an insider's perspective of how information is gathered, verified and shared using the new tools of social media.  In a fast paced day she had an hour to prepare before her debut appearance.  She can be seen in this 5 minute clip, and did a good job.