Just a couple of weeks after the California legislature unanimously approved designating November 2010 as California Sikh American Awareness and Appreciation Month comes the news that President Obama will not be visiting Sikhism’s holiest shrine, the Golden Temple, on his upcoming trip to India. Considered one of India’s most popular tourist attractions, it was promoted as the likely third stop on Obama’s trip next month. But a requirement that all visitors cover their heads inside the temple has caused his planners to decide that it would not be wise for him to make the trek, lest he be mistaken for a Muslim—something that Obama haters would like the world to believe he actually is.

Since 9/11, Sikhs have been confused with Muslims because they share some similarities in appearance. Many Sikhs wear turbans, like Afghans do. Traditional Sikh men sport beards, as do many Muslim men. Four days after 9/11, Arizona Sikh Balbir Singh Sodhi was gunned down in front of his gas station by a so-called patriot who mistook him for an Arab. Eighteen other men in the United States were killed after TV images of the World Trade Towers coming down, interspersed with images of a bearded and turbaned Osama bin Laden, were seared in people’s minds.

Former California Lt. Governor John Garamendi (now a congressman from the Bay Area suburb of Walnut Creek) has never been afraid to rub shoulders with Sikhs, at home or in India, pre-9/11 or post. He has won some of his strongest support from the state’s Sikh community by smartly playing the Sikh card at Indian-sponsored fund-raisers. He wears colorful turbans and participates in Sikh festivities. He covers his head and walks into Sikh temples. For their part, the Sikhs have opened their wallets and poured money into his campaign coffers.

About a decade ago, Queen Elizabeth II kicked off her royal shoes and walked around the Golden Temple in her stocking feet. Maybe Obama should confuse his enemies by visiting the Golden Temple—and then publicly eating pork.