Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto accepted a difficult task of speaking about the mass murder of 11 worshipers inside the Tree of Life Synagogue Saturday morning.
Peduto offered numerous comments including, “This is not who we are”. While that sentiment finds origin in his heart that hopes for a society that disconnects from violence, bigotry, anti-Semitism, gender bias and race animus, sadly, unfortunately what occurred in Pittsburgh, offers reality and accurate reflection of who we are, especially the blood thirst that tethers these United States.
From the outset, this nation, allegedly conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal, used the art of bloodshed and employed relentless use of violence and weaponry toward a doctrine that accepted genocide.
Slavery added another distasteful U.S. chapter in a national biography that eventually included anti-Semitism. Sure, Mayor Peduto may wish for a better world and rearrange the deck chairs on the U.S.A. Titanic but this country remains consumed by violence and the use of guns to exact vengeance.
The captured gunman who expressed a desire to kill all Jews then carried out his demonic plot, by killing Richard Gottfried, 65; Rose Mallinger, 97; Jerry Rabinowitz, 66; Cecil Rosenthal, 59; David Rosenthal, 54; Bernice Simon, 84; Sylvan Simon, 86; Daniel Stein, 71; Melvin Wax, 88; Irving Younger, 69; and Joyce Feinberg, 75; represents a U.S. society that avoids the reality of our country’s hate.
This is who we are and attempts to disavow these acts decrease our chances and opportunities to dilute the hate that exists in this country. The United States suffers an addiction to AR-15 rifles, handguns and all other weaponry that can deliver extensive body counts.
The United States suffers an affliction of violence that disregards the sanctuary of the Tree of Life Synagogue and the sanctity of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, SC where Dylann Roof, another white supremacist gone mad, killed Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Tywanza Sanders, Cynthia Hurd, Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Myra Thompson, Ethel Lance, Rev. Daniel Simmons, Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor and Susie Jackson during a prayer meeting.
That June 2015 incident failed to produce Roof’s hoped-for race war. Instead, community members stood together until time offered an intervention and everyone retreated to their lives and beliefs that what occurred inside the Emanuel AME Church served as an anomaly.
While most mass murderers identify as Caucasian middle-age men, we should not disengage from the number of African American men who engage in the production of mindboggling statistics regarding homicide perpetrated on each other.
This is who we are. Attempts to deny this reality will never help in the hoped for change necessary to curtail violence unleashed in Philadelphia, Chicago, Trenton and other urban arenas. By the way, as our attention remains riveted on cities, the violent crime rate in rural areas rose above the national average for the first time in a decade.
An observation of crimes against immigrants, particularly our Latino and Spanish-speaking brothers and sisters, underscores how U.S. citizens struggle with diversity. We build walls, displace family members, dispatch ICE agents and deny opportunities while landlords, lawyers and liars implement fraudulent tactics to keep these newcomers saturated by fear.
Mayor Peduto stood and spoke as this latest unconscionable act occurred in his city. He voiced many ideas and thoughts about how we should deal with this attack on decency and humanity.
His city and the Jewish community have our prayers and heartfelt concern for this act of violence that killed 11 people and wounded several others. While we promise to never forget what occurred here, it’s likely that time will move us on until the next episode.
We can make a difference before then. Please, stand against racism, bigotry, religious hate, gender bias and misogyny each and every time someone unleashes negative propaganda about individuals or groups of people.
Silence, even in the face of your parents, relatives, friends and even lovers, allows them room and space to continue these misguided attempts to divide us. Do not allow distortion.
We will never change who we are until we admit who we are.