Less than 24 hours after authorities arrested a man accused of terrorizing the nation with mail bombs, another man, shouting anti-Semitic slurs and armed with an AR-15 assault rifle and three handguns, opened fire in a Pittsburgh synagogue on Saturday, killing 11 people and injuring six. The suspect, Robert D. Bowers, 46, was captured at the synagogue.
President Donald Trump called the attack “pure evil” and said “our nation and the world are shocked and stunned by the grief.” Then he headed to Illinois for a campaign rally 10 days before the midterm elections. (“I don’t want to change our life for somebody that is sick and evil.”).
The trail of anti-Semitism and other hate speech on the suspect’s social-media accounts was a familiar marker of domestic terror, wrote Jay Parini. “Racism gathers into its dark embrace haters of every kind. Their victims can be of any minority group — Jew, Muslim, Latino, black, gay.” For a country “awash in guns, hate erupting into murderous violence is a chronic condition.” And while the President is no anti-Semite, his “rhetoric has fueled and empowered racists of every stripe…Americans: wake up, please! Remember why we exist at all: we were founded by immigrants fleeing persecution abroad…”
Writing in the Washington Post, Jennifer Rubin warned of the mainstreaming of right-wing, “blood and soil” nationalism in the United States and Europe. The shooter may be responsible for this act of mass murder, she wrote, but politicians who “celebrate ‘nationalism,’ or declare the United States is a ‘Christian nation’… are consciously or unconsciously channeling and amplifying anti-Semitism.”
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