Son of murdered Sikh Temple president asks why Obama & Romney have not visited victims
August 15, 2012
Last weekend, Michelle Obama made a surprise visit to a hospital in Aurora, Colorado to meet with victims of last month’s movie theater shooting there. Her husband, President Barack Obama, also met with those affected by the horrific shooting just two days after it occurred. However, neither the president or the First Lady has visited Oak Creek, Wisconsin where six people were killed at a Sikh Temple sixteen days after the incident in Aurora. Amardeep Kaleka, whose father was killed at Oak Creek, said he finds it “strange” his community hasn’t received more support from President Obama and Mitt Romney.
“Why wouldn’t they, at some point, make a stand. Make a stand for everybody out there who’s ever been robbed, or gunned down or has faced this hatred,” Mr. Kaleka said.
“We communicated with the White House very briefly, mostly the Department of Justice, and that’s about it. There was a phone call made with Barack on the first day, on Sunday, to just a random congregation member,” said Mr. Kaleka. “Somehow, some way he got somebody’s number and he called a congregation member. He’s never called the victim’s families, not even the board that my father led before he died.”
In a White House press briefing two days after the shooting in Oak Creek White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was asked whether flags were at half mast to commemorate those who were killed and whether the president would be meeting with the victims.
“I have no calls or scheduling announcements, or schedule changes to announce to you at this time. But the answer is yes with regards to the flags being lowered,” Mr. Carney said.
Mr. Kaleka believes there’s two main reasons why the Sikh community in Oak Creek hasn’t gotten the same kind of support from the president that the people of Aurora received–the tense political climate in Wisconsin and the fact Sikhs are a religious minority.
“First and foremost, I think it’s politics,” said Mr. Kaleka. “Wisconsin is an obviously pivotal state in most of these situations, especially presidential elections because we could swing either way. We have a big gun control issue here…and then we have the labor problem with…so, we have a lot of politics at play in our state and I wonder if that makes people want to stay away from speaking about this, or visiting us, or showing support.”
He also said many at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin believe their status as a largely immigrant community and minority religion has kept politicians away.