This past weekend, a tragedy occurred not only within the Jewish American Community, but in humanity. It was the deadliest Anti Semitic crime targeting Jews in United States History.
During a Saturday morning Shabbat service, Jews at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania were praying peacefully; a Brit Milah ceremony was about to commence. Out of nowhere, like a ghost of death, a shooter burst into the synagogue and opened fire. 11 died, many more were severely injured. The shooter mentioned in an interview, “I just want to kill Jews” and in fact, his anti semitic commentary was on an anti Jew social media platform, GAB. Obviously, this was indeed a hate crime and has been in process of an investigation by the federal government.
President Trump, a loyal supporter of Israel, was expected to make moving and touching comments to fill the hearts of victims families and give hope to Jewish communities worldwide. In my eyes however, his words were empty and meaningless and his subject of focus to resolve these crimes was utterly skewed. He mentioned tightening gun laws and said, “If there were an armed guard inside the temple, they would have been able to stop them.” He also mentioned the death penalty and how it should be implemented to finally terminate this case.
The president added, “this was an anti-Semitic act and you wouldn’t think this would be possible in this day and age, but we just don’t seem to learn from the past.” He also asserted that “there must be no tolerance for anti-Semitism in America or for any form of religious or racial hatred or prejudice ” (CNN).
This declaration means absolutely nothing. For someone who calls Mexicans “rapists” and “criminals” and generalizes all Muslims as terrorists, his statement is completely hypocritical. Quite honestly, Mr. Trump has not “learned from the past.” Hate speech is one of the leading factors to mass hate crimes like genocide, specifically demonstrated during the Holocaust. Trump’s speeches including racist and discriminatory content which sound awfully like Hitler’s rhetoric are primary causes of not only the continuation of hateful ideologies, but the transformation of hateful words into hateful actions.
Our current president must reflect on what he has preached through his campaign trail and now, during his presidency. He recently titled himself as a “nationalist,” a word which connotes autocracy, supremacy, and oppression. This term was indeed used as labels for leaders like Mussolini, Stalin and Hitler, all who had disgusting and hateful policies that resulted in mass genocide.
We uncover the shooter, Robert Bower’s motives in his interview. He decided to act due to the Hebrew Immigration Aid Society planning to help the caravan coming to the US. Mr. Bowers, who originally stood in opposition to the caravan immigrants entering the United States, decided that because a Jewish organization was planning to help them, he would massacre people of the Jewish faith to prevent this from occurring. Because Trump’s views regarding immigrants and his instilling the American public with fear through his various speeches, he has driven many to believe similarly. Some like Mr. Bowers, go to great lengths; they go beyond exercising first amendment rights of free speech and press to expressing their hatred through actions.
Mr. Trump’s speeches, although powerful and influential, have been incredibly divisive rather than presidential and inclusive. It is necessary to understand that the US is built up of immigrants who have shaped the meaning, the story, and culture of what is our America. His comments regarding people from non-white backgrounds, even women, have been incredibly demeaning. A fervent wave of radical white supremacy back into our nation has surfaced stronger than ever before. Bringing people of all faiths, ethnicities, races, and ages should be on a president’s agenda: when all citizens unite and cooperate, a nation can thrive and flourish.
If Mr. Trump’s messages continue unabated and hate manifests itself into the American culture, beliefs like these will pollute our society. An exponential increase in discriminatory crimes will occur. Again, the evidence of what led to the extermination of 11 million targeted minorities during the Holocaust began with nationalist Nazi rhetoric and was preceded by violence, as seen in Kristallnacht for example; worse followed. So far, two years into Trump’s presidency, the footsteps have been traced, eerily so. On this path, the future for this land of liberty, hopes, and dreams will be a disaster of oppressive darkness.