We reel, again, in the wake of yet another horrifying act of violence. We grieve with the Congregation Chabad in Poway, CA, and all our Jewish siblings. It is an all-too-painful reminder of how Anti-Semitism continues to corrupt our communities, the deadly fruits of bigotry. Today, we weep with those who weep, and pray this hatred might be banished from our midst—that no one should suffer its abuses.
This act of terror is not an isolated incident. The harrowing truth is that it is part of a broader pattern of white supremacist violence targeting houses of worship. In March, 50 Muslims were massacred as they prayed in Christchurch, New Zealand. Earlier this month, police arrested a man for burning three historically black churches in Louisiana. Just last week in Texas, a man attempted to set the North Austin Muslim Community Center ablaze and in Bethlehem Pennsylvania someone burned Iglesia Penetecostal beyond repair. And, the tragedy this weekend echoes the horrifying shooting at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue last fall. Every person deserves to worship peacefully, yet, continually, centers of religious life have been targeted—transforming houses of peace into sites of unspeakable violence.
All of these attacks have come at a time when the President has repeatedly used his pulpit to regurgitate white supremacist talking points, attempting to excuse the inexcusable. Just last Friday, President Trump defended his decision to say there were “very fine people,” among the neo-Nazi protestors who shouted, “Jews will not replace us,” in Charlottesville. “[They] went because they felt very strongly about the monument to Robert E. Lee, a great general,” he told reporters, defending modern white supremacists by praising a man who fought to keep people enslaved. The bigotry that emanates from our highest office cannot be separated from the hateful violence that afflicts our communities.
Last week when Cesar Sayoc pled guilty to mailing bombs to media outlets and Democratic politicians last week, he told the judge that attending Trump rallies “became like a new found drug” for him. The Christchurch shooter praised President Trump as “a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose.” The Tree of Life killer regurgitated lies the President told about migrant caravans when explaining why he shot people as they prayed. One example after another of bigoted propaganda motivating assailants. This is not acceptable. When will we stand up in opposition to hateful rhetoric that leaves a trail of victims in its wake? What has happened in each of these cities, affects us all. Their pain is our pain, and together we weep.