What was assaulted in Squirrel view, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States on Saturday, October 27, was not just the 11 persons that died and the six injured, or strictly the Jewish community in the United States. It was an assault on the entire humanity itself. It was terrible. It was horrendous. It stands condemned by all right-thinking members of the human community. We note for record purposes, that the children of YHWH have been victims of hate, terrorism and intimidation all through history, but a gun-man, Robert Bowers, 46, walking into a synagogue on Sabbath day, wielding guns and hate in his heart and gunning down innocent persons and injuring others is the height of the terrorism and intolerance that a chosen race has suffered over time. The people of YHWH could be terrorized and slaughtered but it is written in human memory that they will forever live. But even that is no lasting consolation. The world must be made safe for all – regardless of race, ethnicity, colour or gender.
The latest case of hate crime in the United States further raises questions about gun control – the need to take a second look at the spread of guns in the United States and the readiness with which agents of hate pull out those guns to commit evil at all levels.
But it also draws attention to power relations; those who feel oppressed are bound to rebel against their imaginary oppressors, and they may choose wrong targets as victims of their depression. In Robert Bowers mind, that is the assailant’s mind, is the assumption that Jews, wherever they may be, no matter their circumstances, are oppressors. The hate in his heart takes us back to Egypt, the Crusades, the Granada massacre to the Holocaust. He is a memorialist, a recorder of hate, with deep-seated evil in his heart. President Donald Trump has called for the death penalty, but even death may not erase or cancel the memory of hate in the minds of others like him. A world in which a group, any group at all – national or local, is made to feel like targets reminds us of the vulnerability of all humanity.
Jews, after more than two millenniums, from Egyptian captivity to the Babylonian threat, to Hitler, came to regard the United States and Israel as their places of refuge, away from centuries of persecution. But now, not even the United States is safe anymore. Not even Israel is safe. The world in which we live, needs a re-set, a rethink beyond primordial ghosts and binary thoughts that threaten human relations at all levels. The man of the skullcap must be able to live with the white supremacist and the community of persons with dark sins, and the Arabs and everyone else, to respect the values of difference, diversity and inclusivity. This is the lesson of the shootings in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, over the weekend – the need for a world without racism.