‘Racism is a refuge for the ignorant. It seeks to divide and to destroy. Its the enemy of freedom, and deserves to be met head-on and stamped out.’ – Pierre Berton
I feel bad whenever I think of the day I spent with people from the an extreme right wing political party. I marched alongside them all over Paris. It was 19 years ago. I was in Paris and I wanted to celebrate May Day, the 1st of May. In our country everybody celebrates May day. I had no idea May day was celebrated and Joan of Arc was honored by no other people but the extreme right wingers in France. Not only I marched with a bunch of neo-nazis, skinhead, racist white supremacists wearing heavy boots, I applauded like them when their leaders were giving racist speeches. I did not know French. I thought they were talking about the workers rights. I had no idea that their speeches were hate speeches against non-white immigrants. They laid down flowers in front of a statue of Joan of Arc, I did the same. I was the only non-white among tens of thousands of whites. I noticed they were staring at me with strange eyes. I thought French eyes were strange. Next day when I told my friends about my May Day celebrations, they were shocked, they told me that those people were France’s far-right Nationalists, there were many skinhead white supremacists among them. I was lucky that I was alive, that I did not get beaten up or killed.
But I am an invited guest in France! I said. My French friends said, ‘They didn’t know that you were a guest. They didn’t know that you would stay only for a few days! They definitely thought you were an immigrant! You should know that those people do not want to see any black or brown in this country.’ Since then, I stay at home during May day in Paris.
I lived in the West for more than a decade. I was treated as a V.I.P. or a distinguished resident. I was respected and honored by the governments and many reputed institutions and organizations. I had armed police protection round the clock. But still I experienced racism. If I had to experience racism, I can imagine how much racism ordinary people experience everyday!
Recent Sikh temple shooting in Wisconsin reminds me of racism I face and other non-whites face in the West. Mr Page, the white supremacist skinhead racist probably wanted to kill Muslims but killed Sikhs because he mistook turbaned Sikhs for Muslims, or he just wanted to kill a bunch of brown immigrants, no matter in which god they believe in.
Mr. Wade Michael Page served in the US military. I have been thinking whether American soldiers get specially trained to be angry at black and brown people in Asia, Africa and Latin America during their overseas operations. Some of them, I am sure, think, that, the little poor people in the little poor countries are not Americans, they must be terrorists or they must be enemies. We know what kind of brutality prisoners witnessed at Abu Gharib prison in Iraq.
Mr. Page was like one of the racist US soldiers in Abu-Gharib or the soldier who at 3 p.m. in Afghanistan woke the civilians up and killed them. That was an intentional killing of innocent men, women and children. The difference between those soldiers and Mr. Page was, Mr. Page didn’t have his Military job but they had while they were killing and torturing people.