One Hate Crime Does Not Define the US
Enemies of diversity imperil globalised prosperity
It would be a mistake to read into the killing of Indian information technology professional Srinivas Kuchibhotla in Olathe, a small town in Kansas, as the new US policy towards Indians or anyone else. While media reports say that the man shouted, “Get out of my country!” before firing at Srinivas and his Indian-origin friend, the FBI, which joined the local police in investigating the crime, is yet to classify this as a hate crime. President Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant policy is widely credited with encouraging xenophobic and white supremacist sentiment in the US. However, he has so far chosen to not react to the development. His press secretary Sean Spicer has dismissed the notion that the President’s policies have anything to do with the crime.
The absence of official condemnation of the killing of an IT professional of Indian origin on seemingly xenophobic grounds is not a welcome development. At the same time, three developments also deserve attention. A local white resident present at the bar tried to stop the killer and got shot as well. He is recovering. A solidarity fund set up for the Kuchibhotla family has received four times the target amount. The killer, who fled Kansas, told a bartender in another town in another state that he had just shot two Middle Eastern men, and needed a place to hide, following which the bartender called the police, leading to the killer’s arrest. These are examples of civic solidarity that transcends skin colour and a sense of right and wrong at work in American society. It is precisely such social sensibilities that multiculturalism needs for its existence and is vital for the future of a globalising world, in which entrepreneurial genius taps global pools of capital, talent and technology to push the frontiers of human creativity to produce new prosperity, and people move across national borders as part of this process.
Acceptance of diversity is a key feature of globalised prosperity. Those who use violence against people whose looks or views they dislike are enemies of progress, whether at home or abroad.