Forty-year-old Wade Michael Page, who served in the U.S. Army from 1992-98, was shot and killed by police officers in the parking lot of a Milwaukee-area Sikh Temple after he had gone on a rampage that left six dead and three wounded. According to the New York Times, Page entered the temple, located in the Milwaukee suburb of Oak Creek, Wisconsin, at about 10:15 a.m. carrying a 9 millimeter handgun and began firing at priests gathered in the temple lobby. “He then stalked through the temple as congregants, including women preparing a meal for services, ran for shelter and barricaded themselves in bathrooms and prayer halls,” the paper reported. “They made desperate phone calls and sent anguished texts pleading for help as confusion and fear took hold.”
Like much of the rest of the media, the Times was quick to go for “expert opinion” to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which said it has evidence that the shooter in the deadly attack had ties to the white supremacist movement. SPLC spokespersons Mark Potok and Heidi Beirich have been quoted in many news stories describing Page, a Milwaukee area resident, as a “frustrated neo-Nazi who had been the leader of a racist white-power band.”
The evidence cited by the SPLC may turn out to be accurate, but the organization’s record gives ample warning that it will soon be spinning whatever facts it may have about Page to serve as a broad-brush indictment of the “political and religious right,” whom the SPLC leftists malign as “haters.” The SPLC’s regular vicious attacks on patriotic, constitutionalist, pro-life, pro-family, and pro-Second Amendment organizations, as well as attacks on Tea Party groups and black Christian pastors who oppose homosexual marriage (see here, here, and here), have destroyed its credibility with millions of Americans. If Page was indeed a Neo-Nazi, that would make him a national socialist: Nazi Party is the short title for the National Socialist German Workers' Party (in German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei). As a socialist, Page would be much more nearly compatible on many key political and economic issues with those who identify themselves as liberal Democrats or Obama Progressives. Neo-Nazis, like the Nazis of the Hitler era, also share another common denominator with many of their liberal-left critics: a hatred of Christianity and Christian culture.
An anonymous Defense Department official told the Associated Press that Page was discharged from the military in 1998 after being reduced in rank from sergeant to specialist. The official gave no reason for the reduction, but said that Page was discharged from the Army without the option of re-enlistment.
According to the AP, Page joined the Army in Milwaukee and received his initial training in Fort Sill, Oklahoma. After a stint as a repairman for the Hawk missile system at Fort Bliss, Texas, Page switched to the Army's psychological operations (psy-ops) program, the Defense official said. Psy-ops specialists “are responsible for the analysis, development, and distribution of intelligence used for information and psychological effect,” explained the AP. “They research and analyze methods of influencing foreign populations.”
While investigators said there was no evidence that anyone other than Page was involved in the shooting, Fox News reported that the FBI had “a photo of a 'person of interest' whom they want to question in the investigation.” According to Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards, the unidentified man had arrived at the scene following the shooting and looked “suspicious,” but had left before police could question him.
FBI Special Agent in Charge Teresa Carlson said that a motive in the crime is still under investigation, and that investigators are delving further into Page's possible neo-Nazi connections. She added that the shooting is being investigated as a “possible act of terrorism.”
At a news conference Edwards identified those who had been killed in the attack as five men and one woman, ranging in age from 39 to 84. Three others were wounded during the shooting and were in critical condition at a local hospital.
Among the wounded was a 51-year-old Oak Creek police officer, Brian Murphy, a 20-year veteran of the force who had showed up on the scene shortly after Page began the attack. As Murphy was offering aid to a victim, Page reportedly shot him eight or nine times at close range, leaving him in critical condition.
There are some 500,000 U.S. followers of the India-based Sikh religion, and the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin started with 25 families in 1997. Fox News reported that “Sikh rights groups have reported a rise in bias attacks since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The Washington-based Sikh Coalition has reported more than 700 incidents in the U.S. since 9/11, which advocates blame on anti-Islamic sentiment. Sikhs are not Muslims, but their long beards and turbans often cause them to be mistaken for Muslims, advocates say.”
Following the tragedy the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund issued a statement saying that the “Sikh American community, like all Americans, is shocked after this attack. We mourn the loss of those killed today and pray for the swift recovery of those injured, including the veteran police officer who put himself in harm's way to protect his community.”
Photo: AP Images