John Donne On The Temple Shooting

Perhaps the most frustrating aspect (at my privileged distance) of the Sikh Temple shooting, is the obsession with the differences between Sikhs and Muslims. Intentional or not, the implication is clear; it would be understandable if someone shot up a Muslim mosque.


A guest post today from John Donne. The context was different, and this is an excerpt (albeit the best-known excerpt) from a larger meditation (Meditation XVII–Nunc Lento Sonitu Dicunt, Morieris (Now this bell, tolling softly for another, says to me, Thou must die.))

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend’s were.
Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.


  1. khms says

    obsession with the differences between Sikhs and Muslims

    I think the confusion between the two underscores the uncomfortable (to some people) truth that these kinds of attacks are primarily based on almost complete ignorance.

    Hmm. Someone should probably study something like, say, distributions of retaliatory attacks hitting the wrong targets (as in, how much are they off, and how far (according to some measure) are the attackers to the original event).

    Not that I expect there to be any surprises.

    For that matter, 9/11 itself is already an example of this.

  2. Stan Brooks says

    Thanks DC, that was perfect. How sad that some of us haven’t learned that so simple lesson. We are all lessened by that.

  3. seadeatea says

    To illustrate this point: While nobody was killed a Mosque in Joplin, MO was burned to the ground Monday (second fire there in a month)and it barely made a news blip.

  4. Sam the Centipede says

    […] the obsession with the differences between Sikhs and Muslims.

    I can’t speak for the US coverage, but when it was reported in Europe, I took that suggestion to mean “the guy who did it was such an insane moron that he probably couldn’t even tell the difference between the two religions and communities”.

    I sort of agree with the implication that it might be more understandable for the attack to be on Muslims or an Islamic building. Understandable because of the friction between the USA and the Islamic countries of the Middle East, and the ongoing attacks on and killing of Muslims by US armed forces.

    Understandable though is not the same as excusable. To understand all is not necessarily to forgive all. That attack was pure evil, irrespective of who the actual or intended targets were.

  5. coragyps says

    Here in lovely West Texas, the local Israeli family (a Jewish family with a German surname) caught all kinds of shit after 9/11 because they were “ragheads.”

    Ignorance so deep it can’t be plumbed…….

  6. hpqp says

    What Sam said. I am also in Europe, and the point the media seems to make is that the shooter was such an idiotic ball of hate he went gunning for anything remotely Muslim/forrin’-looking. That said, this is a wonderful piece of poetry, so “bump” as the youngins say.

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