OPINION: Pittsburgh latest victim of white nationalism

by | Oct 31, 2018 | Opinion

Kit Kolbegger

A mass shooting rocked the United States. Again.

This time, it was at a synagogue.

Eleven people died, including a woman from Toronto. Others, including police, were injured.

According to the officers at the scene, when the shooter was arrested he told them that Jews needed to die, and were committing genocide.

Later, screenshots surfaced that appeared to show the shooter — whose name I won’t write, so that history might forget it — on Gab, a platform popular with white supremacists and the alt-right. There, he was threatening violence.

Hate crimes seem to come so fast now: pipe bombs in the mail; two black men shot outside a grocery store; a shooter at a synagogue. Now we wait for the next one.

White supremacy and extremism are undeniably on the rise in North America. This is the problem, not the lack of armed guards in places of worship, as the president of the U.S., whose name I also won’t mention, has suggested.

When extremists are armed, it’s inevitable that they will wreak destruction. It happens at schools, at churches, at mosques, at night clubs.

It’s inevitable because they hear frequently that they are right.

The president of the U.S. stokes xenophobic fears by talking about “migrant caravans” and “illegals.” He strips rights from transgender people. He threatens to revoke birth right citizenship.

These groups, like the Jewish community, are the targets of extremist hate. Presidential dog whistles only serve to embolden those with hate in their hearts.

After all, if they’re right about those “criminal” immigrants or transgender people, why wouldn’t they be right about Jewish people?

When the president says he is a nationalist, why should others not feel comfortable saying it about themselves?

And while he may have Jewish relatives in the form of his daughter and son-in-law, the Anti-Defamation League found anti-Semitic attacks soared by 57 per cent in 2017, after he took office.

Even in Toronto, a mayoral candidate who had appeared on a neo-Nazi podcast managed to claim more than 25,000 votes.

There are no easy solutions, and it’s hard to think clearly while we are grieving alongside our friends, families and neighbours.

Stricter gun control might be a start. More presidential condemnations of racism and white supremacy wouldn’t hurt either. We should make sure children aren’t kept in cages, and affirm every human’s right to exist.

We need to put aside our differences, and stop seeing minorities as “the other.”

We need to stand together and stop the normalization of hate, because united we stand, divided we fail.