On the Pittsburgh shooting: These are not isolated incidents

Tyler Sabloff | Senior Forum Editor

On Oct. 27, 11 people were shot dead in a Pittsburgh synagogue. Much of the response that I have been seeing from many on social media has been shock and surprise that this kind of horrific anti-Semitism can exist in today’s world. Well, welcome to America.

Anyone who says acts like those of this week’s, the Charleston shooting or the Pulse nightclub shooting are lone acts of terror is seriously and problematically naive. Wake the f— up, people. This is and has always been a deeply, deeply hate-filled and prejudiced country. All these events are connected through the history of hatred toward the other that has been a constant since Columbus first landed in North America and slaughtered the natives. Let me give a little refresher on some of the highlights of American history: slavery, Jim Crow, zoot suit riots, the Tulsa race riot, Stonewall riots, Michael Brown, Emmett Till and the near complete genocide of native people.

I could go on and on and on, but my point is that all of these are not isolated incidents of hatred. For every synagogue shooter, there are thousands of other neo-Nazis festering and spreading hatred. For every Darren Wilson, there are hundreds of Republican legislators who are actively trying to restrict voting rights for blacks across the country. Just because most of these acts that occur on a daily basis aren’t deemed media-worthy doesn’t mean that that hate isn’t festering and encroaching in society every single day. None of these instances are outliers to the norm, rather they are the norm. They are just mainstream news worthy highlights of the discrimination that has always existed in America.

As a side note to my fellow people from Jewish families or communities who are now suddenly reacting to the horrible and violent racism and prejudice that exists in America by adding a filter to their Facebook profile pictures: Where the hell have you been? Where were you after nine black Christians were shot dead in a Charleston church? Where were you when 49 gay men were killed in an Orlando nightclub? Where were you for all of the members of the trans* community who are ostracized and attacked every day? And where have you been for every non white-passing person who has been profiled, brutalized or murdered by the police?

Racism, prejudice and violent forms of both are alive and well in America. So just because now people of your ethnic group have been victimized you chose to recognize this fact? To all members of persecuted peoples, be there for other concurrently discriminated groups and don’t turn a blind eye just because yours isn’t currently in the news cycle. If you want any of this to change for you or others, be vocal against every Pittsburgh shooter, Cornerstore Caroline and George Zimmerman, no matter who you are. So instead of now filtering your profile picture with “#Together Against Antisemitism”, how about always having it say “#Together Against All Forms of Hate”.

Letters to the editor in response to this piece can be found here, here and here, along with a follow-up piece from the original author.

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