What could be the worst possible nightmare in mind of a person who leaves his own country and moves out to the other in search of a better livelihood, place of work or a better lifestyle; the answer to this would invariably be that when such a person is treated with hostility and resentment in that nation. Unfortunately this nightmare came true for the Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani in the wickedest possible manner. On the fateful day the two Indian H-1B visa holders were sharing an after work drink in a bar in Olathe, Kansas. A white American retired Navy veteran, Adam Purington questioned them about the legality of their visas to which they responded that they were legally inside the US and were from India, he further hurled racist insults at them and was subsequently removed from the bar. Later he returned with a shotgun, and after shouting “get out of my country” opened fire at them. This lead to death of Srinivas and left Alok injured, another white man, Ian Grillot, who came to rescue of the duo, and tried to stop the shooter also got wounded by the gun shot. The shooter was later arrested after he allegedly confessed about shooting to a bartender in another bar. The gunman is presently held in Jhonson County jail under a $2 million cash bond nad is charged with first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder. This incident sent shockwave throughout the United States of America and India.
Fanning of Racial Feelings
Extremism, Racism and Intolerant to a certain sect of people are not the tags, which normally any developing of developed nation as well as the leaders of that nation would want to be labeled, however everything is not same at the present time with the United States of America. The current President of USA Mr. Donald Trump and his close allies throughout the campaigns for elections ran the case based on these tags and feelings only. The president ran an openly Xenophobic and Anti-immigrant narrative which he ultimately related to his notions of ‘Make America Great Again’.
This fanning of feelings related to white nationalism has ultimately lead to state where certain set of peoples have started to actively see ‘Brown’ peoples as a threat and do not shy to turn their racial resentment to violence, as has happened in the present incident. In the first 10 days after the election of Mr. Trump as the president, the Southern Poverty Law Centre documented more than 1000 reports of hate related incidents – what is chilling is the fact that these are almost 1/5th of the total incidents reported in year 2016 [The Cost of Hate, The Indian Express, February 27th, 2017].
United States of America and Hate Crimes
Though it is being urged from every corners that this incident should be seen as a separate incident, but the occurrences of race based incidents in not a new phenomenon in the United States, the glaring examples of such being the widespread ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement, which was targeted to tackle and demanded an end to the police violence towards the African American community. Another instance or set of instances in this case which add a ‘feather to the cap’ of the racial violence is the example of targeting of people from Sikh community after the attacks of 9/11 under the mistaken believe of them being Muslims due to the beard they kept.
There has been a spike in the reported numbers of the hate related incidents, with incidents related to vandalizing of cemetery stones, threating to bomb the Jewish community centers, letters calling for slaughter of Muslims [US mosques get threatening letters calling for ‘slaughter of Muslims’, The Indian Express, March 2nd, 2017] and shootings involving Indians. After Kansas shooting, an incident is reported from Kent City where a Sikh man was shot, the shooter uttering almost same remarks as the one in Kansas did [US: Sikh man shot by stranger, says was told to ‘go back to your own country’, The Indian Express, March 5th, 2017]. Another instance of violence reported to an Indian is shooting of Harnish Patel in South California, an NRI from Varodara, however according to the authorities there is no link in this case with hate crime.
What is astonishing is the time taken by the President to issue a statement in regards of these happening, there was a delay of six days in responding about the Kansas shooting, and instead of addressing the issue, he chose to condemn the hate crimes as a whole in a simple broad condemnation. This also marks the contradiction in stand taken by the President, on one side he proposes strict actions, including deportation, against the immigrants who are alleged or found guilty of an offence, and on the other hand he takes so much time in condemning the acts of violence being committed against an immigrant, also it is pertinent to point out that the president said nothing on threats to Jewish centres until his daughter, Ivanka Trump, herself Jewish, went public on the issue [The Cost of Hate, The Indian Express, February 27th, 2017].
These incidents reveal what happens and would happen further (if checks are not placed) when president Trump’s economic nationalism and the fact of globalization would come to converge, on one hand Indian migrant worker are allowed into US due to immigration policies, at the same time on the other hand new political rhetoric make Americans to treat and see the same workers as a threat. In such cases Saket Soni puts that “the only safety for Indian workers in America is in allying with the growing civic movement – lead by people of colour – that push this country away from the impulses of the shooter and towards those of the protector” [After Kansas, The Indian Express, March 2nd, 2017].
However, this spread of racial hate is not the absolute truth either, there is still the feeling brotherhood and genuine civic decency binds the American society together, Ian Grillot, who tried to help and save Srinivas and Alok and ended up being injured himself in the attempt is the glaring example of anti-thesis of the gunman’s racism. [The Cost of Hate, The Indian Express, February 27th, 2017] The act of crowd funding for treatment of Ian is also a prima facie evidence that the community at large attaches itself to what Ian stood for, rather than what the gunman did.
America has always been viewed as a society which embraces and protects the migrants which enter its border, as one which places and stands for the better treatment of humans. Indians have always believed in that American society It is the high time for the politicians to understand that the spread of racial ideology has more harm attached to it than the good, and that Racism is a beast which devours on humanity, and it has always lead to destruction only. Though for now it can be simply put that the Kansas shooting was one of the events of the wave, and the wave is still continuing unabated.