Letter: Pittsburgh massacre is an attack on American Jewry that shouldn’t be taken lightly

Peaceful practitioners of faith are no safer than anyone else 


Flickr Creative Commons: Governor Tom Wolf

By Opinion and Editorial Staff

To the Editor:

The massacre that killed 11 congregants at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh is an attack on American Jewry that should be understood as a warning sign to all Jews, that peaceful practitioners of faith are no safer than anyone else.

History tells us hate manifests in a variety of different ways. We can look no further than to social media to learn about the methodology of this most recent mass killer. His frustrations with immigration, coupled with a steadfast belief in Jewish extermination motivated his brutal actions that Saturday morning. While it is beyond troubling that this nation can’t look to the leader of the executive for sensible remarks after such tragedies, what is worse is the President’s suggestion that placing armed guards out front is a plausible solution to solving this problem of hatred. The United States accounts for less than five percent of the global population yet possesses over 40 percent of the guns. It is hard to discern how more guns would help solve this problem. Furthermore, acts of antisemitism have increased by 60 percent in the last two years, the highest increase since the data started being gathered some 40 years ago.

In her remarks following the shooting, Trump’s press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders described antisemitism as a “plague to humanity.” However, it is a plague the President seems content with. Sanders defended the president’s position by reminding us of his Jewish grand-children, along with his son-in-law whose ancestors died in the Holocaust. Such an anecdote is the equivalent of cultural tokenization and presumes that Trump’s understanding of such issues comes from a good place because he is married into them.

Some have called the killer crazy. Unless spewing hateful rhetoric online is the standard for insanity, we should think twice before labeling the mental state of the perpetrator. The more speculation that takes place surrounding his psyche, the more the conversation becomes less about him and more about an illness out of his control. There is no arguing what took place was a planned, calculated act of hate. While his hatred was fueled by antisemitism, the way he chose to express such hatred was through semi-automatic weapons of war that were acquired legally. Perhaps Congress should consider measures designed to keep people who hold such views from harboring such weapons. Such a tone doesn’t go against the grain of the second amendment. It seeks to prevent those who want to act out their hate from doing so at the expense of others.

The Jewish community not only demands answers but deserves them. No one should have to enter a place of worship in fear. We deserve to live in a world where peace serves as the ultimate protector of tolerance. As Trump and his administration continue to stir the pot with his hateful and divisive rhetoric, let it be the people that keep it from boiling over. Voting will provide the perfect simmer.


Isaac Simon

Class of 2018

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