Almost 400 years ago, a group of men and women from England traveled to America, to escape religious persecution. Human beings fleeing their homeland to find freedom for their beliefs is nothing new, it is seen repeatedly through history. Again, sadly, now, we need to ask, has America become a place where people are persecuted for their beliefs?
Two Saturday mornings ago, a shooter opened fire in a Jewish synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Eleven members of the congregation were killed, two members and four officers were injured, during the 20-minute attack on the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue. The shooter led one of the deadliest attacks on the Jewish Community in the U.S. with an assault rifle and three handguns, and he has been charged with 29 criminal counts.
The congregation was partaking in a ceremony celebrating the birth of a child that Saturday morning, when the shooter barged in, yelling anti-Semitic phrases. Waiting outside in his car, witnessing the crossfire between the shooter and authorities was 80 year-old Judah Samet, a Holocaust survivor, and a member of The Tree of Life for 54 years. Many of the victims were heavily involved in the community and the Synagogue, and family and friends have expressed how much the victims will be missed.
With investigation, a long trail of social media posts expressing hate towards the Jewish people were posted by the shooter. The shooter had no direct links with the particular synagogue he targeted, but he had a clear, unjust hate for individuals of the Jewish faith. The Jewish faith welcomes tourists and people of other faiths into their most holy places of worship in Jerusalem. It is a faith that has been persecuted since civilization began, and yet, it can be still be hated just for its existence. This infuriating unjust attack on people simply because of faith is another example of hatred within our society. The shooter’s name and face and have been shared throughout the media, yet the recognition of the important stories of the victims seems shadowed. Shooters keep killing, they may be convicted and punished, or even killed during the attack, yet the hate continues in our society.
As more hate crimes are committed, the more desensitized people become to these horrific crimes that should not occur. America was founded on ideals of liberty, but it seems that no matter where we live, the safety of human lives is compromised. Whether it’s the movie theatre, a school, a concert, a club, a casino, or a synagogue, living freely, doesn’t free individuals from the life-threatening hate in America. When does the society finally say, “enough?”