I have had to let a day or so pass before writing about the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue. My reaction was of such anger and disgust that I needed to settle down before commenting. Part of that disgust has to do with some of the comments being made about the crime. In the meantime, others have offered comments that come close to summarizing what I think needs to be said, and David Harsanyl’s post at The Federalist comes closest to reflecting my views, but with some differences. Harsanyl is a Jew, and I am a gentile, so his perspective is somewhat more personal than mine.
Jordan Peterson has made the observation that both the Left and the Right can go too far with their politics, noting that the responsible members of the Right have figured out that the line on their side relates to identity politics devolving into racism. The Klan and neo-Nazis are beyond the pale. The responsible Left has no such line, yet the Left’s identify politics can also devolve into forms of tribalism that allow, encourage, or demand violence against the “other.” Perhaps the responsible Left needs to begin taking the same kinds of steps that the Right did decades ago to isolate its more destructive members.
It doesn’t matter to me whether the shooter was motivated by a political ideology or whether he was simply evil. What he did was evil.
UPDATE—A rabbi has these thoughts—
My synagogue is on the west side of Los Angeles. On a rough guess, about half of my congregants support Donald Trump. Many of those who do, but certainly not all, are from the Persian community. We have had frank discussions. They know I deplore many of the things he says and I oppose much of what he does. They know that I have criticized, publicly and privately, the inflammatory rhetoric of his presentations and warned them of its effects. They also know that we respect and listen to one another, that I do not preach politics at them but do speak with them and learn from them, and that our relationship in many cases is not only one of affection, but of genuine love.
So when I see major American Jewish figures tell me that my congregants are illegitimate, my blood boils a little bit.
The calculation here, I suppose, is that people voted for Trump to get an embassy move and their vote proxy murdered other Jews. How careful should one be, should a distinguished reporter be, when accusing others of such enormities, even indirectly? How do people think this message will fall on the ears of those who fled from Iran, to be told that they are in fact guilty in the death of Pittsburgh’s Jews?
Or — even more shamefully — on the ears of Judah Samet. Mr. Samet, a Holocaust survivor, escaped death by 4 minutes because he was a little late to shul. He is also a strong supporter of Trump. Frank, Julia: Would you stand before this 80-year-old man, not in a tweet or online piece, but face to face, and tell him he is responsible for the death of his friends, the people with whom he prays each Shabbat? Would you bar him from the shul where he almost died, again, at the hands of Jew haters? Really? And that would make us the righteous ones?
Read the whole thing.