Congressional Candidates Asked About Issues Affecting Sikh American Constituents

Co-blogged by Sundari and AmericanTurban

121013020732_Mcnerney_v_gill.jpegOf recent and recurring discussion on The Langar Hall and American Turban has been the election race in California’s 9th Congressional District. For Sikh Americans, this district’s race is significant.Located in northern California, the 9th Congressional District contains America’s oldest and one of its largest Sikh American communities. The oldest Gurdwara in the United States (which only a couple of weeks ago celebrated its centennial anniversary) is located in this District in Stockton, California. America’s first Asian American and Sikh American member of Congress, Dalip Singh Saund, once resided in this area, and one of the candidates currently running is himself a Sikh American.Given the unique character of the District, we are interested to know the thoughts of the main candidates of the district on the issues affecting their current and  potential Sikh American constituents, many of whom have been active in supporting each of the candidates. It is our plan to publish these answers by each candidate to learn more about their positions on issues affecting Sikh Americans.With election day in the US nearing, we have asked the main candidates — incumbent Representative Jerry McNerney and Republican challenger Ricky Gill — to offer their thoughts on Sikh American issues. We are aware that important concerns of the general public on issues like jobs, healthcare, or social issues are often already asked of the candidates, but that their positions on Sikh American issues are not asked of them. Accordingly, these questions reflect Sikh American concerns that do not get the same attention from mainstream media.

The questions that we have sent to the campaigns of Jerry McNerney and Ricky Gill are below the fold, and on Tuesday, October 30, we will publish the responses from each campaign.

Questions for Rep. Jerry McNerney and Ricky Gill:

1. Sikh Americans report enduring profiling at airports around the United States by law enforcement.

a. Do you support the proposed federal End Racial Profiling Act?
b. Do you support adding a prohibition on profiling on the basis of religion to the United States Justice Department’s 2003 Guidance on Racial Profiling?

2. School bullying acutely affects Sikh American school children. The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights reports that up to 3/4s of Sikh school children experience bullying and harassment in schools.

a. Do you support the proposed federal Safe Schools Improvement Act?

3. In the United States, Sikh Americans are officially barred from service in the US military unless they remove religiously-mandated turban and cut religiously-mandated hair. Over the past three years the United States Army made one-time, individual exemptions for three Sikh soldiers so that they could maintain their religious-mandated turbans and hair. Similarly, the Washington DC Police Department made a change in policy to allow any Sikh police officer to serve with his or her turban and uncut hair.

a. Do you support a change in United States military policy so that any Sikh would be able to serve without having to remove their religiously-mandated turbans and unshorn hair?
b. Would you encourage law enforcement agencies in your Congressional district allowing
Sikhs to serve as police officers without removing their religiously-mandated turbans and unshorn hair?

4. Hate crimes, exemplified by the recent massacre in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, where a white supremacist entered a Sikh house of worship and murdered six Sikh worships, acutely affects the Sikh community. The Federal Bureau of Investigation however does not presently track hate crimes against Sikhs.

a. Do you believe the Federal Bureau of Investigation should track hate crime against Sikhs?
[co-posted on American Turban]

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28 Responses to “Congressional Candidates Asked About Issues Affecting Sikh American Constituents”

  1. Bostonvala says:

    Not withstanding the fact in your lead to the questions that the 9th Congressional District in CA is of unique importance to the Sikh American experience, all your questions to the reps are relevant to Sikhs across the entire US. Great work and hope for poignant responses. My ask is whether we have a system in place to spread this to other states and districts across the US and target both state reps as well as Senators? For me personally I am quite interested in what Scott Brown(R) and Elizabeth Warren (D) responses are to this. I am sure others in different parts of the country would love to get responses from their district's tough and close races.

  2. Sher says:

    "…religiously-mandated turban and cut religiously-mandated hair"

    Sikhs are supposed to believe in Adi Granth, where does the Granth 'mandate' such rituals as wearing a turban and keeping the unshorn hair"?

    ???? ?????? ?? ??? ??? ?? ?????? ??? ?
    ???? ?????? ?? ??? ??? ?? ?????? ??? ?
    Kab?r par?? ik si?o k??e ?n ?ubi??? j??e.
    Kabeer, when you are in love with the One Lord, duality and alienation depart.

    ???? ????? ??? ??? ???? ???? ????? ????
    ???? ????? ??? ??? ???? ???? ????? ????
    B??vai l??be kes kar b??vai g?arar mud??e. ||25||
    You may have long hair, or you may shave your head bald. ||25||

    ???? ??? ???? ?? ????? ??? ??? ??? ???? ?
    ???? ??? ???? ?? ????? ??? ??? ??? ???? ?
    Kab?r jag k?jal k? ko??r? an?? pare ?is m?hi.
    Kabeer, the world is a room filled with black soot; the blind fall into its trap. " AG page 1365

    Encourage yourself and others to come out of the Kajal ki kothri and ask yourself are you not doing exactly what you accuse others of (i.e. Racial profiling – Ricky Gill is a "Sikh American" )?

    Would it mean no difference to you if Ricky Gill is an incompetent, dishonest nincompoop but contest (and get elected) on a 'Sikh agenda'? Why every time a candidate of Sikh background is fielded, you want him/her to exclusively espouse 'Sikh values' and bog him/her down with baggage borrowed from his/her Sikh background?

    As far as point around 'religious profiling is concerned, that is erroneous too. if Ricky Gill is still called a Sikh (with his 'shorn' hair), are such Sikhs profiled at the airports?

    Even though I am not competent to advise you on such matters but, if I am talking to receptive bloggers, get over your Tat Khalsa biases, obscurantism and sheer ignorance of your own scriptures/theology.

  3. harpreet says:

    Yes let Pundit Sher teach the Sikhs about their scriptures, without knowing that Sikhs do not get Rahit from the Guru Granth Sahib. Arya Samaj Zindabad!

  4. Nuance says:

    So far a text book example of a Sikh chauvinist. Really discouraging that as a community we seem to contine to tolerate and sometimes glorify this kind of goonery.

  5. Nuance says:

    Basically calling someone who he assumes is Hindu a pandit and trying to write a yo momma joke.

  6. Nuance says:

    Does our community tolerate this level of thought instead of examining communalist bigotry in our community? Maybe do some thinking on how Sikh popular culture has sometimes looked upon Hindus in the places we hold most sway.

  7. Admin Singh says:

    [Harpreet, Nuance, and Sher – this is your only warning. Do not hijack threads. Stick to the topic on hand or you will be banned.]

  8. Nuance says:

    Whatever, banning is fine. This site has lost all credibility for me since one of it's posters accused me on being a hi Durga nationalist. Seriously, I do not respect this site one iota.

  9. Nuance says:

    Hindutva nationalist, but who knows maybe hi Durga too.

  10. Blighty Singh says:

    If this were a series of questions to British parliamentary candidates, all 4 questions and all sub-questions would have been about foreign policy towards human rights abuses by India. The insular isolationism of American politics is actually quite worrying.

  11. Sher says:

    How about a debate on Human rights abuses IN India?

    There are two sides of the story, why not at least acknowledge the abuses by the extremist fringe which continues even today. "Insular isolationism" of supremacists (who probably believe that only radical Sikhs have human rights, others are lesser mortals) is equally appaling.

  12. […] to learn more about their positions about Sikh American-related issues (see previous post here). Both candidates responded. However, the nature of the responses received were quite […]

  13. […] about a week before the election, in partnership with the blog The Langar Hall, Sikh blogger Sundari Kaur and I sought to give the candidates of California’s 9th […]

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