View Mobile Site

We are all Americans: Sikhs, Protestants, agnostics, Catholics, Mormons, atheists, et al

Text Size: Small Large Medium
POSTED August 8, 2012 12:19 a.m.

Bigots, take note.

The Sikhs have been part of the fabric of California for over a century.

They were among the mix already in the Golden State that labored with the great migration of “Okies” and others during The Great Depression to scratch out a living working the fertile fields of the San Joaquin Valley.

The Chinese - at least in large numbers - have been Californians even longer. Just like Europeans, they rushed to the gold fields in 1849 and subsequent years. Their ingenuity and work ethic are credited with two great engineering feats that still greatly benefit California today - the building of the Delta levees and blasting out the first trans-Sierra railroad route over Donner Pass.

Mormons, still the only religious group in America ever to essentially have war declared on them by the federal government and several states, beat everyone to the South San Joaquin County save native American and French trappers with the Hudson Bay Co.

They established New Hope in 1846. The agricultural settlement was located near the conveyance of the Stanislaus and San Joaquin rivers some 10 miles south of then modern-day Manteca.

 And Mexicans - or Mexicanos as they were known in the days when Spanish rule gave way to Mexico and being part of the United States - brought the first remnants of Euro-centric civilization to California.

California is not, never was, and never will be identified with one ethnic group, one religion, or one race.

You can make an argument that it was the clash and subsequent meshing for the most part of various cultures, ethnic groups, races, and religions on a scale much more intense and grand than the United States as a whole that gave birth to modern-day California.

It took more than the Gold Rush to turn San Francisco from nothing to the 10th largest city in the country in less than 40 years in the late 19th century. It hasn’t been a smooth journey. California has had its share of dark moments.

Perhaps given how California arrived at where it is today for better or worse - and if you think about it the better still outweighs the worse by far - is why some remarks uttered by those who are tolerance challenged can stun.

Sikhs are productive and contributing members of American society. They have peacefully practiced their religion in San Joaquin County for a century with their Stockton temple marking its 100th anniversary this year. And while not meaning to inadvertently broad brush other religions, they had nothing to do with 9-11.

Mormons do not have multiple wives. If you try and say that they do because of a practice the church outlawed well over 130 years ago then you’d have to paint Protestants as fanatics who burn people they think are witches because of what happened in Salem centuries ago.

And Mexican-Americans are not illegals. The only illegals that have Mexican heritage are those who are here from Mexico illegally, not Americans who happen to be Mexican just like Americans who happen to be Irish. Ancestry has nothing to do with one’s birthright or legal claim to American citizenship.

The murderous attack on the Sikhs in their place or worship in Wisconsin should incense all of us.

To attack, kill, beat or vilify any American based on their religion or lack thereof, skin tone, gender, ethnic background or other melting pot ingredient is an act that desecrates everything that our flag represents.

We are all Americans first and foremost.

 

This column is the opinion of managing editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.  He can be contacted at dwyatt@mantecabulletin.com or 209-249-3519.

Commenting is not available.

Commenting not available.

Please wait ...