Terry H. Schwadron
Oct. 28, 2018
Let’s talk about Hate.
Hate fueled the sending of pipe bombs this week, targeting a number of critics or political opponents of President Donald Trump.
It is the stoking of hate and fear that encourages the president to single out immigrants, and that slow-moving migrant caravan in southern Mexico.
And it was hate that prompted a crazed gunman yesterday to walk into a Pittsburgh synagogue where three Jewish congregations were worshipping and welcoming a new baby and start spraying the place with his automatic assault rifle.
Though that suspect’s direct objectives are still not publicly known, he was shouting that “all Jews must die.”
A social media post from him identified HIAS, the Hebrew Immigration Aid Society for underwriting the costs of the immigrant caravan, an untrue statement that typifies the below-ground false charges from right-wing Internet sites. HIAS, which helps resettle refugees in American communities, “likes to bring invaders in that kill our people. I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in,” Bowers is suspected of writing hours before authorities said he opened fire at the synagogue. The post was taken down.
And the president at once tries to downplay any role he might have in all this from going regularly to campaign rallies at which he rails at foes and the “fake” media, often encouraging beatings or worse to individuals who oppose him. There is a direct line here, despite the denials, from the abetting tone of attack and the hyper-charged activities of some individuals to put the violent tone into action.
As The New York Times noted, the shooting came amid rising anxiety about illegal immigration and in a decade that has seen an uptick in hate crimes. According to an annual report by the Anti-Defamation League issued earlier this year, the number of reported anti-Semitic incidents in the United States surged 57% in 2017, the largest rise in a single year since the A.D.L. began tracking such crimes in 1979.
“The attack also was a deep and painful blow to the Jewish community in the United States, and came just days after George Soros, the billionaire philanthropist and major donor to Democratic candidates, who is Jewish and who survived Nazi occupation in Hungary, received a pipe bomb in the mail. Also in the past week, a Senate campaign sign for Josh Hawley, attorney general of Missouri, was sprayed with a swastika,” said The Times.
Vox news added, “The attack represents a further intensification of an insidious trend that has been proliferating steadily since Donald Trump’s campaign and inauguration: the resurgence of toxic, and at times, violent anti-Semitism in America.” The magazine added, “But the attack on Tree of Life is part of another, wider, and no less worrying trend: the degree to which places of worship have become targets for acts that could be classified as domestic terrorism. In the past decade, houses of worship — from synagogues to Christian churches to Sikh temples — have increasingly become targets for extremist violence. Many of these attacks have been explicitly white supremacist or right-wing in nature, targeting perceived liberals, ethnic minorities, or women.”
Here is part of The Washington Post coverage: Trump has called out the Pittsburgh attacks, “But his critics countered on Saturday that the president and the GOP, in a cynical pursuit of political power, have gone beyond partisan political combat into outright demagoguery against racial minorities, foreigners and prominent Jewish political figures.”
That is Hate, just with more words.
“The numerous statements he’s made, calling himself a ‘nationalist,’ crowds at his rallies chanting threats against George Soros — it’s all connected,” said Cecilia Wang, deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union.
For a surprising number of Jews, the issues of Trump’s pro-Israel politics and moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem as the Israeli capital have been sufficient to support the president.
Jay Michaelson, a Daily Beast columnist argues that “No amount of pro-Israel policies — no embassy in Jerusalem, no encouragement of settlements, no increased aid — outweighs the existential danger to Jews of the Trump movement’s coddling, or even overt encouragement, of anti-Semitism, racism, and nativism. Even those Jews not motivated by solidarity with Muslims, Mexicans, the media, and others singled out by Trump for opprobrium must now recognize that we Jews, ourselves, are at risk.
There is plenty to fear from real bullets, real bombs in the mail, real attacks. I’ve gotten my share of threatening emails and denunciations.
As we repeat at our family Passover, Jews have faced hate in many places, in every generation. Yet we persevere.
Mr. President, listen to yourself and to the reactions your words and action cause.