Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Hate Rears Its Ugly (and Evil) Head in Joplin

by Pa Rock
Citizens Journalist

This week began with another horrible mass shooting.  The shooter was a racist who gunned down a group of worshipers in a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.  Seven died in the attack, including the shooter himself who was killed by police responding to the massacre.  Several others are hospitalized with serious injuries.

The shooter was a forty-year-old former U.S. Army soldier who played guitar and sang vocals in a racist rock band.  It is thought that he believed the Sikhs, many of whom wore turbans, were Muslims.  They were not.

But the bodies at the Oak Creek temple were still warm when another apparent hate crime ripped the nation's heartland - this one in Joplin, Missouri.   I use the word "apparent" because the FBI is still trying to determine if the burning of the city's only Muslim mosque was arson, but as two earlier fires at the same mosque definitely were arson, my educated guess is that this will prove to be an intentional fire also.

The mosque, the only official place of worship for the community's fifty Muslim families, burned to the ground Monday afternoon.  Earlier this year (actually on the 4th of July) an unidentified man tossed burning material onto the roof of the mosque, but it didn't manage to set the building ablaze.  The man and his wasted effort were caught on video tape, and the FBI has offered a reward for information regarding the wannabe arsonist.   Back when the mosque opened in 2007, its sign was also torched.

Susan Campbell, a writer who happens to have grown up in Joplin, had a good piece on the mosque-burning online yesterday at Salon.com.  She noted that after last year's deadly tornado destroyed much of Joplin, people from all over rushed to aid in the city's recovery.  Now all of the good that flowed into Joplin during those dark days following to tornado is still there, and people should draw on that good not only to help their Muslim neighbors rebuild their place of worship, but also to ferret out the culprit and bring him to justice.  She surmised that this miscreant did not act in a vacuum, and that there are at least a few locals in whom he confided.

Many people paid it forward to help Joplin in its hour of need.  Now it is time for the community to repay that profound kindness by coughing up this criminal.  That simple act of justice would remind Joplin and the world that the city is indeed worthy of all of the love and respect that it garnered from the world just last year.

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