As the week begins, Americans once again find ourselves mourning the deaths of innocent victims of a mass shooting, this time of Jewish worshipers at a Pittsburgh synagogue by a sick, hate-filled Nazi lunatic. At this writing, it’s been reported that 11 people are dead. President Trump denounced the crime and said the killer deserves the death penalty. We should all be saying prayers for the dead and their families, and that such hate and violence should never happen again.
Sadly, this being election season, we were already in the midst of an attempt to score political points over mail bombs sent to prominent Democrats by what turned out (allegedly) to be a lone nut with a long history of arrests in Florida. Now, efforts to blame the synagogue shooting on Trump began almost immediately, even though the shooter reportedly hated him nearly as much as he hated Jews because he’s too good a friend to Israel.
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Today’s Washington Post actually has two headlines: “Jews are not safe in Trump’s America” and “How much responsibility does Trump bear for the synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh?” Shameful and disgusting. This, about a President who has not only been a strong supporter of Israel but whose daughter and grandchildren are Jewish. Columnist John Podhoretz, who is both Jewish and a harsh Trump critic, wrote that Trump can only be blamed for this crime “by people who are so consumed by hatred of him that there is nothing they won’t blame him for.”
Enough. Enough with blaming political opponents and the First Amendment and the Second Amendment for the unconscionable actions of criminals and madmen. Enough with trying to advance a political agenda on the backs of innocent victims. Enough with trying to claim the hatred is all on one side or directed against one group (in recent years, we’ve seen worshipers attacked in a Baptist Church in Texas, an African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, a Sikh temple in Wisconsin and a mosque in Canada.)
The people responsible for such acts are the people responsible for such acts. They are sick, twisted people who take it upon themselves to do horrific, evil things. Yes, people on both sides of the political aisle should remember that there are such people out there and, as allegedly responsible adults, temper their rhetoric to avoid fueling their passions. But I have argued for years that you can’t blame one person’s horrible acts on another’s speech. We all have free will to act or not. Other people’s words didn’t pull the triggers on their guns.
If you try to stamp out violence by taking away people's rights, you’ll just get more violence. If you blame President Trump for the actions of a vicious Nazi who hated Trump nearly as much as he hated Jews, then do you blame Bernie Sanders because someone who supported him tried to kill Rep. Steve Scalise and every Republican near him?
The first thing to do in cases such as this is show respect for the victims by mourning them and comforting their families, not trying to exploit them for political advantage for either side. And yes, let's have a return to civility in all quarters. Then, we can talk about preventing future attacks, but don’t trot out the same tired arguments that haven’t worked. And don’t pretend that the solution to dealing with people who commit unconscionable atrocities is to blame or take away the rights of people who had nothing to do with it.
Kim Hirsch at the Victory Girls blog also has some thoughts on how the many acts of evil we are seeing are due to a combination of evil and social collapse due to relentless attacks on the traditional moral foundations of society.