The Tree of Life Synagogue shooting on Saturday in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh hit close to home for many at IUP. You never think it will happen near you until it does.
And when it does happen, it makes sense that those mourning want their privacy during a difficult time. Many criticized the immediate politicization of the attack.
But when it comes down to it, the shooting had political motivations that cannot be ignored.
The rhetoric used by today’s administration undoubtedly had an effect on the Pittsburgh shooter, as social media posts made under his name have revealed his belief that the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society “bring[s] invaders in that kill our people.”
President Trump has spewed similar themes since he’s been in office.
He has refused to denounce white supremacists who support anti-Semitism. He has used anti-Semitic tropes to condemn globalism. He has even pegged Jewish philanthropist George Soros as the mastermind behind the “globalist” movement which he believes is diluting American culture through immigration.
In an article for the Washington Post, Talia Lavin said the “hysteria about immigrants is inextricable from anti-Semitism.” She argues that even if he isn’t saying anything blatantly anti-Semitic, Trump’s accusations that a powerful Jewish man is funding a foreign invasion of America fuel the anti-Semitic conspiracies that white supremacists like the Tree of Life shooter believe.
Hate speech is not the only political issue that can be linked to the Pittsburgh shooting. Gun violence in America has been a hot topic all year, and it’s easy to understand why.
We are currently 305 days into 2018, and so far this year, there have been 297 mass shootings, according to an Oct. 29 article from Business Insider. The Gun Violence Archive shows that more than 12,000 people have died from gun-related violence this year, and more than 23,500 others were injured. Yet the Republican party still refuses to make any efforts to support gun control legislation.
In response to the Pittsburgh shooting, Trump himself said that if the synagogue had had armed guards inside, they may have been able to avoid the casualties. But more violence shouldn’t be the answer to ending violence. You can’t stop the cycle by continuing it.
What America needs is legislation that will help protect innocent people from those who make clear expressions of hatred and violence. What it may need even more is a government that won’t shamelessly encourage such violence.