“White supremacy must be defeated…terror will not win.”
Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein of Poway, California made that the centerpiece of his reaction to the deadly shooting that was visited upon his congregation on Saturday, the last day of the Jewish holiday of Passover, when John Earnest of San Diego entered the synagogue and opened fire on the worshippers inside.
He killed one person, 60-year-old Lori Kaye, who was present at the service to mourn her mother’s death, and injured three other people, including Rabbi Goldstein.
Goldstein called it what it is — terrorism. The young white man is from nearby San Diego. “To our great shame he is now part of the history of evil,” the shooter’s family said.
Rabbi Abram Goldstein of Congregation Beth Sholom in Anchorage said: “I would say that much like Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, our response to acts of hate is to continue our devotion to Tikkun Olam, repairing the world, with all our hearts. We will continue to be a supportive community that rises up together with all our fellow faith groups and organizations when the need is great. Love is greater than hate and every act of terror is always answered by standing in solidarity with our local communities and growing stronger together.”
This tragic incident comes at a time when the president of this country has long applauded and supported violence against innocent people that disagree with his racist domestic and international policies.
Trump is best known for his comments after a violent confrontation between hundreds of white power militants and a group of citizens opposing their rally.“There were fine people…on both sides,” Trump infamously said.
A young white woman who opposed the neo-Nazi rally was killed by a white supremacist when he rammed his car into the crowd. A massive show of white supremacists chanted, “Jews will not replace us!” as they marched through the streets of Charlottesville, VA.
Trump has never called out the KKK and white supremacists, and has become the symbolic commander-in-chief of all that is evil in America. Deadly right-wing extremism, led by Trump and his followers, has seen a dramatic rise in America since Trump’s inauguration. But still, white evangelicals continue to support him in droves, by 69 percent in one poll.
There were at least 1,800 hate crimes against Jewish people in 2018, an FBI report said. The incident in Poway happened exactly six months after the mass shooting inside a synagogue in Pittsburgh where eleven people were killed and seven were injured. It was the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the United States.
When Trump was asked if he thought white supremacy was a threat, he said it “was just a small group of people.” Other, more learned people across America say the threat is a global one.
The Rev. Paul Brandeis Raushenbush of Auburn Seminary in New York wrote recently that the murder of 50 Muslim people in New Zealand brings this issue home to America. “The shooter decided to livestream the horror he was perpetrating on Facebook for the world to see. The video was meant to be widely viewed and shared in order to embolden others guided by the same religio/political outlook in other places around the world. We have seen this technique used by militant groups of all backgrounds, and we have taken these radical movements deadly seriously and put billions of dollars into combating them…. It is time for us to treat white supremacist terrorism as the global threat it is and to respond.”
Raushenbush continued, “Over the past few years we have seen white supremacist attacks in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, Charleston, South Carolina, Quebec City, Canada, Otoya Island, Norway, Pittsburgh and, most recently, ChristChurch, New Zealand. This is just a partial list of places white supremacists have murdered hundreds of people to further their radical ideology – and yet the response is still piecemeal, treating each incident as somehow an aberration rather than manifestations of an ideology with objectives and violent strategies to achieve them,”
As Trump’s hateful rhetoric heats up, so do the tempers of his followers. The GOP has remained cowardly silent in the face of these deadly criminal acts.