Anti-semitism alive and well in the US
Pavlina Jones / December 28, 2018
(3 min read)
Xenophobia is alive and well in many countries all across the world and it does not avoid the United States. On Saturday, October 27th, a hate crime broke out at the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighbourhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Leaving eleven people dead this is recorded as the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the United States' history. The suspected shooter, 46-year-old Robert Bowers, walked into the Synagogue on Saturday morning. heavily armed and began to shoot.
As the FBI made further investigations on what led Bowers to commit such a crime, they have uncovered his Gab profile. Gab is a small social network that allows users to say or post anything they want, unlike Facebook or Twitter where posts and comments may be reported. Bowers' Gab profile had a blue check mark next to his name showing his account was verified – he showed Gab a verified form of identification when he signed up for its services – and in his bio it read "Jews are the children of Satan". Many of his posts were rants about Jews but the most disturbing post of all came only hours before the shooting actually occurred. It stated, “HIAS [Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society] likes to bring invaders in that kill our people. I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in”. Robert Bower's account is no longer in existence and the Gab network is temporarily offline due to the fact that hosting providers are pulling their services (Ohlheiser & Shapira, 2018).
Bowers was indicted with a total of thirty-six criminal counts, which include criminal homicide, criminal attempt, aggravated assault and ethnic intimidation. His case will be prosecuted first in the federal court rather than the state court because "the U.S. Justice Department says it believes it’s in the national interest to protect the constitutional right of freedom of religion." (Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting Suspect Robert Bowers Pleads Not Guilty at Federal Arraignment). The question of implementing the death penalty is at hand as well.
Though anti-Semitism has been a centuries old problem, the United States was always held as a haven for the Jewish community to thrive – at least comparatively speaking. That is why events like these leave the people of the country shaken. When asked about this, a former schoolmate of mine back in Georgia, Rachel Cooper – herself a member of the Jewish community – had this to say about the event: "I think it was absolutely devastating and really showed how much anti-Semitism still exists in America.
All of the recent shootings are heart-breaking but this one really hit close to home because it was a hate crime on my faith and my aunt actually used to teach at that synagogue and was less than a mile away when it happened. The fact that it could have easily been her in there just made it that much more real. I think this showed that we still have a way to go in America to really be an accepting and equal community." I personally maintain that incidents such as this one are utter travesties. However, they sometimes showcase the hidden nefarious beliefs that reside within the public consciousness. Therefore, it is imperative that we counter those beliefs in order to avoid such heinous hate crimes from being repeated.
Our condolences go out to the families and friends of the victims and the Pittsburgh community. May the eleven lives that were lost rest in peace.
> > > REFERENCES:
Ohlheiser, A., & Shapira, I. (2018, October 29). Gab, the white supremacist sanctuary linked to the Pittsburgh suspect, goes offline (for now). Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2018/10/28/how-gab-became-white-supremacist-sanctuary-before-it-was-linked-pittsburgh-suspect/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.a1e8120ee410
Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting Suspect Robert Bowers Pleads Not Guilty At Federal Arraignment. (2018, November 01). Retrieved from https://pittsburgh.cbslocal. com/2018/11/01/pittsburgh-synagogue-shooting-suspect-robert-bowers-federal-arraignment/