A lot of people are increasingly mistaking paranoia with patriotism these days. Take David Hook, for example.
Hook has been charged with hate crime after he reportedly threw soda on a Sikh man and hurled racial epithets at him, police said.
Hook said he was walking past Habit Burger in Bakersfield, South Carolina, when he heard Balmeet Singh, a Sikh man with a beard and turban, talking on his phone in a foreign language. The man claimed he heard the word “bomb” somewhere during the conversation and confronted Singh.
"So you’re going to blow up this country. You're trying to blow up this country?” Hook reportedly said. “You're trying to blow up this country. I should f******g kill you right now.”
Hook allegedly then approached him and threw his drink in Singh’s face.
Singh, however, claims he was merely talking to his 13-year-old cousin and wishing him a happy birthday, when the white male him.
“I didn’t know how to react, so I walked up to him, and he ran or walk towards the parking lot,” Singh said. He also added there must be 10 people sitting at a nearby patio who heard their conversation but none of them tried to intervene or help Singh.
Hook has now been tracked down and charged with one count of interference with the exercise of a civil right and one count of battery. If convicted, he could be punished with one year in jail and a fine.
When asked why he didn’t call 911 to report the incident, Hook said it was his constitutional right to take direct action.
“If you see something, say something,” said Hook.
When he was questioned whether any other passersby corroborated with Hook on his suspicions about the bomb, Hook replied in the negative.
He also insisted he is not a racist; however, his behavior shows differently. He has also threatened to sue media outlets like Facebook and Eyewitness News for spreading “lies” about him and besmirching his character.
The incident has shaken Singh, who advises other people to keep “safe and vigilant” and to be very careful ahead of the United States elections in November.
“Incidents like this make it very critical to remember who we vote for as a president and who we elect into our country’s leadership really matters,” he said.
The Greater Los Angeles Area chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) condemned the attack.
“We condemn this apparently bias-motivated attack and urge law enforcement authorities to bring the perpetrator to justice,” the group’s executive director, Hussam Ayloush, said in a statement. “Californians of all faiths and backgrounds must stand together in the face of growing hatred and division in our state and nation.”
The Sikh Coalition has also condemned the attack.
Just recently, another Sikh man was attacked in California simply because of his race and religion. Maan Singh Khalsa, an IT specialist, was attacked while he was driving home from work. The assailants surrounded his car at a red light stop, beat him up viciously and cut off his hair, which he kept long for religious reasons.
Since the events of 9/11, racial attacks, disguised as patriotism, have been on the rise in the United States. The GOP presidential candidate is further adding fuel to this already large blaze by his incendiary rhetoric that targets minorities.
Several surveys have found that many Sikhs have been mistakenly targeted as Muslims by xenophobes who consider everyone belonging to the Islamic faith as a terrorist.