The Tree of Life: Mourning a national loss 

On Oct. 27, just like any other Saturday, I woke up past noon dreading the fact that I had to go work. As I started my afternoon, I checked Twitter for my daily dose of national news and was immediately disheartened by the trending topic. 

In Pittsburgh at the Tree of Life synagogue just before 9:45 a.m., an estranged gunman opened fire as Sabbath services were underway. 

The attack on the synagogue claimed 11 lives and wounded six. Right away, I thought about the families and friends affected by this tragedy. 

There is historical significance to Jewish people being murdered in anti-semitic hate crimes on American soil. I thought about how they were attending Sabbath as they perhaps always did in their place of worship, accompanied by members with similar faith just to be senselessly robbed of their lives in the place they feel most protected. 

Quite frankly, I am weary of the recurring statement of sending our “thoughts and prayers” when, in reality, we need more than that. This country stands in desperate need of reform and execution of stricter gun laws and cease the tolerance of hatred in America that has become regrettably normalized. 

According to The Washington Post, “Hate crimes in the nation’s 10 largest cities increased by 12 percent last year, reaching the highest level in more than a decade.”

A hate crime is a prejudice-motivated crime which occurs when a perpetrator targets a victim because of his or her membership in a certain social group or race. 

A man specifically targeted the Tree of Life synagogue to manifest his hatred for Jewish people and, unfortunately, succeeded. Here in the United States, we have learned and remembered the 11 million Jews killed in the Holocaust and recognized the inhumanity of Nazism and fascism. But now, we are remembering those killed in a similar manner in Pittsburgh on Oct. 27. 

Unfortunately, the Pittsburgh shooting is not an isolated incident. 

On Oct. 24, another man with hatred and murder as his motive shot and killed two African-American Kroger shoppers in Louisville, Kentucky. The shooter’s initial target was the predominantly African-American First Baptist Church just outside of Louisville in Jeffersontown. The shooter allegedly banged on the door and tried to pull it open but did not manage to get inside. The doors were locked.

According to The Courier-Journal, Jeffersontown Police Chief Sam Rogers told the public the shooting was motivated by racism. Rogers called it, “the elephant in the room that some don’t want to acknowledge in this case,” and said the conversation needed to be explored as part of a larger dialogue.

Rogers said, “I won’t stand here and pretend that none of us know what could have happened if that evil man had gotten in the doors of this church,” Rogers said, acknowledging that the shooter told one man “whites don’t kill whites” prior to the shooter’s arrest. 

The startling appearance of the “MAGA bomber” is another example of expressive hatred in the U.S. 

According to CNN, the first bomb was recovered on Oct. 22 at the home of campaign donor and billionaire George Soros. On Oct. 24, the Secret Service said two more bombs had been found, one sent to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and another to former President Barack Obama. Four more bombs would be found before the end of the day, including one sent to CNN’s New York headquarters and former CIA director John Brennan.

Eden MacDougall, a sophomore journalism major and a Jewish-American said, “Jews have always been targets, the hate has never stopped. In these last few years, mosques have been burned, black churches shot up. It was only a matter of time until someone turned their guns on us. It is terrible what happened, but it’s not shocking.”

MacDougall said, “Banning all assault rifles would help, but this isn’t a gun control issue. The shooting took place because the man hated Jews. This would not have happened if anti-semitism did not exist. To really solve this problem, we need stricter gun control as well as for people to realize how their words and actions can potentially ruin lives and contribute to normalizing hate and violence against us and other minorities.” 

We have become numb to the inhumanity of the violent and senseless crimes that take place in this country. We live our lives desensitized to the merciless demonstrations of blatant acts of racism and gun violence. From school shootings to hate crimes, we seem to be paralyzed to these closely connected American tragedies and that is truly the most alarming. We as a nation cannot allow animosity and prejudice to continue to thrive as the narrative of this country as we allowed it to be for generations. These ordeals are becoming more ordinary than isolated.

The weekly editorial expresses the majority opinion of The Rider News. This week’s editorial was written by the opinion editor, Qur’an Hansford

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