I had lunch with my fellow Americans today

I sat down to a meal with some of my fellow Americans today.

I case you can’t tell, I’m the one in the middle.

I went to the Sikh temple in Durham, NC. I showed up at about 11:30 and went inside. The rules are that you must take off your shoes and wear something on your head. They were kind enough to loan me a hat that looks like a surgical cap.

What I heard wouldn’t have been out of place at any random Christian church in the nation. Peace, love,  equality, goodwill towards all men, that sort of thing. They made good use of technology too. They had a computer set up to display running translations of the songs they were singing. I’ve not been in church in a long time, so I don’t know if that’s done in any Christian churches to display the particular hymns being sung or for the readings, but it was really helpful for me to follow along.

After about 45 minutes of singing and playing (it was more of a performance than a sing along) we had some speakers. There were Sikhs as well as guest speakers. Let’s get the bad out of the way.

Dear Mr. Muslim guy. The bullets were NOT aimed at you. Racists hate everyone except their race, so we can assume that the Sikhs who were murdered were killed because they were brown-skinned followers of a non-Christian religion. They were not killed because someone mistook them for Muslims. It really bugs me when people make an effort to be associate victims.

Now to the good stuff. I am a patriot. The sight of the flag makes me happy. I believe in America and in Americans. I take second place to no one in love for my country. The Sikh speakers, especially the President of the temple, exceeded me in patriotism by a long shot. America is not blood, and it’s not soil. America is ideas, and the people who believe them. These were Americans. They might have been born here or far away. But once they started talking about America, the “best” and “safest country in the world”, you could tell that they were Americans. These are not scare quotes, these are direct quotes from the speakers. Thomas Jefferson might have had a problem understanding the accents, but not the sentiments.

And now for the funny part. There must be some sort of gun enthusiast radar. I don’t know if they found me or I found them, but we found each other. The guys I was sitting next to were both Sikh and gun owners. We talked about guns, and we’ll be getting together sometime soon to go shooting. One of my new friends said that he was surprised that no one in the Temple shot at the intruder. He was mystified as to why there was no one with a gun available to shoot back. He assured me that it was almost certain that there were concealed carriers in the congregation. I did not go to the temple to advocate for concealed carry. I was, however, treated to a discussion of how banning guns would not change anything. I was told that criminals would get guns no matter what the laws, and that taking guns from the honest people would only make things worse. In short, it was a discussion pretty much like any that you would read on any pro-gun blog.

Then we had a tasty lunch.

UPDATE: In comments, someone wonders why no Sikhs fought back. At least one did.

38 Responses to I had lunch with my fellow Americans today

  1. I don’t know if that’s done in any Christian churches to display the particular hymns being sung or for the readings

    Yeah, that’s a thing now. I guess people don’t like to read from hymnals any more.

    Anyway, once I week I go to my church and use my mad typing skills to transcribe the songs and lessons into what is essentially Powerpoint. :)

  2. Instructor Sean

    I admire you for going there. Well done sir.

  3. Awesome! Thanks for the report.

  4. Pretty place, isn’t it? I visited there a couple times when I was in grad school at Duke.

  5. It’s my understanding that Sikh men are required to carry a dagger at all times. They value self defense. They should probably update to a pistol for living in the US.

  6. I’ve always been an admirer of Sikhs. They are good people. Glad you had a good experience meeting them.

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  8. Thanks for a very good post. My experience is the same as “SPQR” – I too admire Sikhs and their values; they make great Americans, in my opinion.

    BTW, I got here via Instapundit.com :-)

    best regards,
    SteveR

  9. rbeccah (@rbeccah)

    Having been around Sikhs off and on for many years (military, and later, university), I’ve found them to be kind, admirable people. Knowing that Sikhs have no objection to weaponry (and in fact, I thought the men always carried a ceremonial dagger on their person), I too wondered why no one was able to fight back against the shooter.

  10. They are fierce warriors, and their food is the best.

  11. Not that surprising considering that the Sikhs were considered by the British to be a “Martial Race” (See here), who have a long history of fighting the Mughals.

  12. everlastingphelps

    Peej, I understand that’s an issue that comes up from time to time, but the Sikh thought is that the dagger is as much a mental symbol — a reminder to keep their mind and spirit sharp, and that they can be called on to defend the defenseless at any time. And there were muskets in India at the time of their gurus, but the gurus told them to carry swords/daggers. So that is that, as far as they are concerned.

    I’ve always thought that Sikhs were Americans before there was an America.

  13. Peej,
    I thought they were all supposed to carry their Kirpans too (they insist they are NOT daggers or swords). One of my new friends explained that it wasn’t all Sikhs, or even all Sikh men. It was a small subset of the Sikhs who live a particularly strict Sikh lifestyle.

    I don’t see any particular reason to “update” the religion to include firearms. I suspect, though, that the Sikhs as a whole have their share of concealed handgun permit holders.

    rbeccah: At least one did. The President of the temple used a knife, presumably a Kirpan, to stab the shooter. The shooter killed people inside the temple and then shot the cop outside the temple and was shot by another cop outside the temple. That tells me that the President of the temple drove the shooter out.

    Watch the video here
    http://www.todaystmj4.com/news/local/165118966.html

  14. The Sikh religion had to fight to survive, and emerged independently from a regional crucible of violence in medieval India. They were initially farmers caught between bellicose Hindus and Muslims, both of whom fought each other and anyone who didn’t agree with their religions, and simply to exist the Sikh had to adopt a martial posture.

  15. urbanleftbehind

    Considering their market dominance in convenience stores and gas stations, we really shouldnt be surprised at their support of the 2nd amendment. The members of the Oak Creek temple who carry may have had the misfortune of planning to arrive closer to the start of the ceremony. I also wonder if the shooter was set off by the advance of a Sikh male on his waitress girlfriend (restaurant was nearby).

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  17. Sylvilagus Aquaticus

    Your experience mirrors mine with the Sikh community. I’ve worked with several in the past, and my next door neighbor is Sikh; all stand-up guys. They make fine Texans, too.

  18. My kind of folks. And I’m Irish Catholic, retired LEO (INS!), firearms instructor, and from Wyoming.

    Powder River, let ‘er buck!

    Dienekes

  19. NIce post.

    My father was around Sikh soldiers at Monte Casino in WWII. He said they were the sharpest soldiers around. No helmets. Very brave.

  20. Parminder Kaur Dhillon

    Thanks for sharing your experience at the Gurdwara, thank you for coming

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  22. If I remember correctly; Wisconsin’s CCL is less than a year old. And there is STILL a backlog of applications in the State office.

  23. Parminder,
    Thank you and your friends for you hospitality. You all made me feel very welcome.

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  25. You are a good man for doing this. You built a bridge, that can hold a nation.

    . . .

    Dear President Obama,

    Mr. Obama my relatives escaped Russia to avoid being slaughtered, and on my mothers side were here during the founding of the United States of America. I exist and live in the greatest nation on the face of the Earth because they suffered, fought for, and built this country. I will not stand by and allow you and others of your ilk, to divide us, only to destroy the very foundation that this society rests on. That foundation is the successful evolution of the immigrant into a flag waving God fearing American, we’ve got a few people in this country who need a little reminder of this, this is my effort to do so.

    Immigration, or the perverted form of willful blindness that now exists, is a complete failure. What brought us to this point is nothing more then one political party trying to best the other in the vain search for political power. As each political party vie for territory and the perfect con, or these days, “narrative,” the scars from the battle begin to show. Pretty soon “We The People” begin to take matters into our own hands. Arizona’s Governor Jan Brewer is a great example, Hazleton Pennsylvania and various school systems that are desperately trying to maintain or fix a broken melting pot are others. Americans have a knack for adapting and overcoming liberal stupidity on a local level.

    Lets get back to the basics. America will always need and want immigrants; that is not up for debate with this American. The issue is something very evil called a hyphen. Some view it as a way to justify their differences still other’s see it as justification for perpetual victimhood. I am very happy that the men who protected our B-17’ and B-24’s in World War Two saw themselves as Americans not African-Americans, I spent time with my Grandfather because of their valiant service. To me that hyphen is pure evil, that the right tyrannical leader will one day use to divide us. That day is today.

    What we need is an immigration policy that does not perpetuate division, but one that perpetuates unity and common cause to help us in our wider mission of forming “a more perfect union.” To accomplish this we must lose the hyphen once and for all, speak the English language, pledge allegiance to the flag, and believe in God, no matter how one chooses to express it. Then we must welcome people into our melting pot wanting to build their lives in peace and participate in our system of free enterprise. We welcome them as Americans only looking for an opportunity, not as a hyphenated people looking for a handout to aspire to live as huddled masses in government housing.

    Your effort to divide us will not win the day Mr. Obama. Mine will. Why? Because history and experience has shown, while messy and at times dangerous, it works. It works so well in fact a nation of immigrants in the new world saved the old world from evil, not by being divided, but by being unified by a common American “can do” culture. To continue on your path of racial division can only lead to our destruction.

    We will not let that happen.

    Respectfully,

    Joe Doakes

  26. Joe:
    “You built a bridge, that can hold a nation.”

    I have to be honest here. I just showed up. When I got there I found that the Sikhs had built the bridge long ago and I was just hadn’t noticed before.

  27. Iunderstandanditdoesntmatter

    The reason that some didn’t fight back may have been that they were afraid of being arrested and charged. Considering the location, it’s probably a valid concern. Heck, they might even have been afraid of being mistaken for Muslims by responding personnel…

  28. I find myself with an increasing interest in the group. Im not looking for a new religion, but always open to new community. Hopefully, you have found new friends and allies, always admirable. As to the President of the Temple in WI, it takes quite a hearty soul to confront evil with so little. That man died with his boots on, and it pains me to think we learned of him only in his loss. To Parminder, and your community, good on you, for being kind. Some would no doubt excuse you for being more insular, in the wake of this media attention. Nice to hear you remain open and hospitible, helps maintain my sometimes shaky faith in mankind. Sounds like a good day all around.

  29. “I just showed up.”

    . . .

    About 349,000,000 decided not to. That means you are different in a good way. Good luck dealing with it. It’s not easy. Trust me on this.

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  31. You rock, Sean! Keep up the excellent and illuminating work.

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  35. My friends. I find this interesting. I was born and raised in Durham NC–‘graduated from Durham High School in 1965, and have lived in Wisconsin since’69. As an attorney, I represent and have become friends with a goodly number of Sikhs, some of whom are related to persons recently murdered near Milwaukee. They are, as a group, fine people, the salt of the earth, and exhibit all of the qualities a true American would admire. They are very tolerant of others and are more “Christian” in actions and values than are many, alleged, Christians I know. They are also fearless. One of my good Wisconsin Sikh friends is a leader of the local sportsmens’s club, and runs the shooting range. All Americans should be proud to have these fine folks among us. IMHO. All the men have the name “Singh”, which means “Lion”.