As people responded last week in sorrow and solidarity to the Oak Creek, Wis., shootings and the mosque burning in Joplin, Mo., we are reminded that our nation has been able to overcome hateful speech and hateful acts in the past, and can do so again. By being responsible in our rhetoric, learning about each other in an intentional way, and focusing our counterterrorism efforts on places of real danger, we can help prevent future tragedies.
On Aug. 5, a white supremacist and discharged Army veteran killed six people and wounded three others at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin—including Oak Creek police and emergency personnel first on the scene—before he was wounded by police officers and took his own life. Within 48 hours, the Islamic Society of Joplin mosque—itself the target of hateful attacks in the years after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, including graffiti, gunfire, and Molotov cocktails—burned to the ground.
In the days after, tens of thousands people from different faiths, as well as those from no organized religion, attended peaceful candlelight vigils to honor those murdered and injured as well as the heroes. Thousands more have offered messages of sympathy and support.This article was originally published in National Journal.