Catherine Gagulashvili copy editor
Are you surprised? I’m not.
These past few days, in response to the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, I’ve heard comments like, “I thought anti-semitism was over in this country,” “I can’t believe there was a shooting in a synagogue” and “I can’t believe there was another mass shooting in this country.” To the people surprised that this country has to once again mourn innocent lives, I ask, why? Why does the explicit amount of hatred construed and elicited by the Trump administration continue to shock you? Our publication has repeatedly commented on the lax gun laws in this country, which have taken lives at schools, concerts, nightclubs and churches. It remains a hard fact that loose gun control gives a green light for people to wreak havoc on this country. But, to blame any of the recent shootings on the fact that someone like Robert Bowers had access to a gun single-handedly undermines the rampant hate that has taken over this country.
By no means is the Trump administration the first to introduce bigotry and hatred to America; America has a long, cruel history of discrimination to anyone deemed “different.” However, Trump has revived a suppressed anger among many Americans. His pandering has fueled a fire in those afraid of change, encouraging them to continue spreading their antediluvian views of people of different races, religions, genders and sexualities. Whether or not Bowers was a supporter of the president, the animosity fostered by Trump’s backward speech has been embedded in our social culture.`
The massacre of 11 innocent members of the Tree of Life synagogue was a hate crime. There is no going around it. When the shooter shouts, “all Jews must die,” there is no argument over whether this was an act of hate. Jews have been persecuted for millennia, and for many living in cities with high Jewish populations, it is difficult to imagine that even post World War II, antisemitism is on the rise. From Holocaust deniers to the rise of neo-nazis, it’s clear that anti-semitism is alive and well.
The shooting understandably hits close to home to many Jewish communities. Beverly Hills, a city with a high Jewish population, mourns the loss of their kin in Pittsburgh. But our “thoughts and prayers” can only go so far. The problem, while rooted in individuals with something to fear and hate, is amplified by politicians who encourage violent, bigoted actions.
This country is in need of mending, and that mending begins with us. Every individual has to do some self-reflection and come to realize and fix any errs in his/her ways of viewing the country and his/her compatriots. Above that, it is on us to realize and call out the way our friends and family behave. If you see or hear people using racist, sexist, homophobic or overall bigoted slurs and sayings, take it upon yourself to call them out on their actions, because the continued vilification of minority groups has to come to an end. Most importantly, go vote on Nov. 6. Vote in the midterms in a week and the primaries in 2020. Vote to make our country genuinely better. Because if we can overcome the hate in America, then, and only then, will I be happily surprised.