First Lady Michelle Obama will visit the families of the Sikh shooting victims Thursday, Reuters reports.
The White House said that the First Lady’s visit is part of the Obama administration’s outreach to the Sikh community in the wake of the August 5 shooting. While President Obama hasn’t been to Milwaukee himself yet, Attorney General Eric Holder attended a memorial service less than week after the shooting. At the August 10 memorial, Holder said:
“In the recent past, too many Sikhs have been targeted and victimized simply because of who they are, how they look, and what they believe. That is wrong. It is unacceptable. And it will not be tolerated.”
Holder also condemned the shooting as a hate crime and said “that is anathema to the founding principles of our nation and to who we are as an American people.”
Valarie Kaur, whose documentary Divided We Fall explores hate crimes against American Sikhs after 9/11, wrote an open letter to President Obama to visit Oak Creek, the site of the shooting, saying:
“President Obama, I believe you can help our nation find lasting lessons in Oak Creek. Now that we’ve had time to grieve, people who care are turning to one another and asking: What do we do now?”
Kaur said that Sikh children are bullied in school, and that Sikh men and women are profiled at airports and barred from military service unless they stop wearing their turbans.
One victim’s son said a personal visit from the president “does so much for our safety.” Amardeep Kaleka, whose father was the president of the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin, and was shot eight times, wondered why Obama visited Aurora after the theater shooting, but has yet to visit Oak Creek. Kaleka said he believes that is due to the fact that Sikhs are a religious minority and because of the tense political climate in Wisconsin.
Seven people, including gunman Wade Michael Page, were killed in the August 5 shooting. President Obama said he was “deeply saddened” and called for an end to “senseless violence” in the wake of the Sikh temple and Aurora theater shootings.
What do you think of Michelle Obama’s visit to the victims’ families? Should the president pay a visit as well?