Anti-Semitism and Yet Another Mass Shooting: When Will it End?

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To the despair of many around America, another mass shooting occurred on October 27th in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

A man identified as Robert Bowers killed 11 people at a synagogue, as he didn’t agree with their acceptance of immigrants and was extremely anti-Semitic. This was an act of utter hatred towards the Jewish people and to immigrants and foreigners alike. The news of the shooting was horrifying to so many people, especially to the youth at George who are involved in Jewish Student Connection. The day of the shooting, presidents of this club contacted each other, cancelling all of the plans they had previously set for the next club meeting. This meeting was going to focus on the shooting and was a safe space for members to express their emotions and opinions.                                                                   

One of the main reasons behind yet another instance of gun violence and mass murder can be traced back to the lack of gun control in this country. In the US, there have been 153 mass shootings just this year. That is unacceptable and shocking to many. How can we continue to let this happen when we know the source of the problem? According to the article, 11 Killed in Synagogue Massacre; Suspect Charged with 29 Counts, by Campbell Robertson, Christopher Mele, and Sabrina Tavernise on October 27th, “Representative Mike Doyle, who represents Pennsylvania’s 14th District, where the synagogue is, said that Mr. Bowers had 21 guns registered to his name.” Let that sink in…21 guns to a man that was incapable of sympathizing with and embracing an entire population. Yet, we continue to let this happen, with 153 mass shootings in our rear view, the year not even over yet.

During the JSC meeting after the shooting, students discussed this. Referring to the 97 year old Holocaust survivor that was killed by Bower, one student mentioned something they’d read after the shooting: “‘a Holocaust survivor could survive Hitler’s reign but not Trump’s America.’” Gun reform could be the solution-why is our president ignoring it? Is it for his own personal triumph, gluttony, or stubbornness? What can be said is that this has fueled the anger of many Americans and perhaps there is hope after all.

Another argument for why the shooting may have happened was the brutal speech that Bower was not stopped for. Before the shooting, Bower had posted a lot of hate speech online and it was obvious his intentions were brutal and violent. He had been spreading hate online long before he went to the extremes of killing 11 innocent people. It’s as if he left not a trail of breadcrumbs, but a trail of fire blazing behind him that could’ve been stopped if it had only been extinguished earlier.

To the Jewish community, this came as a major blow, both that people weren’t willing to end or report the hate speech, and that 11 people they may have been connected to on a distinct or personal level died because of it. In a discussion with the JSC, many students expressed their feelings of anguish. A lot of students reflected on their initial reaction to hearing about the shooting by saying that they were shocked, scared, and reminded of other shootings. One person said that they thought to their self: not another one…and that they were scared to practice their own religion. America is supposed to be a place of freedom of religion and thought, but this is not the America we live in right now.

Unfortunately, it is becoming normal for mass shootings to occur. People misunderstand the term free speech in America. It is not the right to hate speech and that your opinion invalidates all others. Hate speech leads to things like the Pittsburgh shooting. It is the gateway to evil and it is a factor behind the need for gun reform. Don’t be afraid to speak out against hate speech, be an ally to everyone around you, and open dialogue to create a safe space for all discussion.  

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