One of the most unfortunate incidents of racial attack on minorities in recent times, the Wisconsin Sikh Temple attack has left behind a tattooed-trail. That six innocent Sikh people were killed by a neo-Nazi gunman in the broad day light cannot be justified by terming it a law and order problem. To be fair and blunt, such cases of racial terrorism are a blot on the part of humanity and these must be condemned.

The most unfortunate part of the whole story is that tattooing which has always been considered as a purely aesthetic enterprise, now finds itself tainted a bit. The prime accused of this attack, Wade Michael Page, an ex-army veteran who was later killed in the counter-fire, had adorned his body with a whole range of tattoos. These tattoos, inked around his body, speak for the racial hatred which he had been harboring inside his mind.

Marilyn Mayo, Co-Director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Centre on Extremism, was found admitting that the tattoos inked on Wade’s body contained specific racial codes and symbols which were the symbolic embodiment of his adherence to a skinhead group. Mayo also admitted that of late, tattoos have emerged as one of the most poignant mode of hate-symbols among these extremist groups.

It is very shocking to realize that tattoos, which were earlier known for their sensual appeal, are now being used as a symbol for racial and cultural hatred. Tattoos, which symbolized passion, have now become a medium to express frenzied religious and social commitments. Getting a permanent tattoo done is a very popular tradition among these groups.

Wade had got scores of tattoos done on his entire body. There was a tattoo just below the shoulder on his right arm depicting ‘838’, which according to the officials is a secret code indicating the membership in Hammerskins- a skinhead group notorious for its multiple violent crimes.

While only admitted members can wear this coded tattoo, ADL believes that Wade was a prospective member of this group from the early 2011. Apart from this, he had also got ‘W’ and ‘P’ tattooed on the back of his hand which according to the officials is an acronym for white power!

On his left shoulder Wade had got a Celtic cross inscribed which is considered to be one of the most popular symbols among Neo-Nazis and the White supremacists. His arm had got the number 14 inked which corresponds to the number of words in the supremacist motto that believes – ‘We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children’.

For a tattoo lover the whole story comes as a serious shock. Tattoo is for love and that is what it should stand for!

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