One Sunday morning over a couple of years ago, I got out of bed, checked the news, and learned of a tragedy in Orlando, Florida. Yeah, you know the tragedy I’m talking about: A shooting incident at a nightclub that left 49 people dead, injured several others, and left two communities scarred — the Orlando community and the broad LGBT+ community.
After that tragedy, we grieved together… and mourned together… and recovered together… and stayed vigilant together, hoping another awful tragedy such as that one wouldn’t occur again.
But, sadly, tragedies would occur again since then, including yesterday in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It was at a synagogue in Pittsburgh on Saturday morning that something truly reprehensible happened: A man went into that synagogue, allegedly uttered some anti-Semitic comments, and opened fire, killing 11 congregants and wounding a few others. Those people were only there to practice their faith and welcome a new life into the world during a bris.
I mentioned Orlando in the first paragraph because when first learning about that tragedy, I wondered about someone I follow on social media who is LGBT and lives in Orlando. Thankfully, they weren’t at that nightclub that evening.
Yesterday, I had similar concerns about another social media friend of mine. No, I won’t identify her, but she is a Pittsburgh native. No, she wasn’t in Pittsburgh, but her family still lives there. Matter of fact, according to her, the synagogue is two blocks away from her family’s house. And she attended preschool at that synagogue when she was a youngster.
Thankfully, my social media friend’s family was out of harm’s way when that incident took place. Unfortunately, the incident left her upset, just as it likely left those in the Pittsburgh area and millions around the world who heard of the incident upset. It left me raw too.
Speaking of Twitter, there’s a certain leader — yeah, You Know Who — who gets his jollies by spewing disgusting comments on Twitter. On Saturday, he uttered not only one but two disgusting comments… okay, he likely said much more than two disgusting comments on Saturday, but I want to note two he uttered out of his lips about the tragedy in Pittsburgh. One was that the incident would have had a different outcome if they had “protection.” You know, the type of “protection” a guard with a firearm provides. No, sir, a rent-a-cop with bad eyesight and an itchy trigger would find it hard to stop someone like the gunman who was reportedly heavily armed. Something like that only leads to a Gunfight at the OK Corral kind of situation. Why would anyone think otherwise? And why would anyone think it’d be an acceptable arrangement at a place of worship?
Something else that You Know Who uttered on Saturday really had me shaking my head. Here was his quote, as found here:
“This was an anti-Semitic act… You wouldn’t think this would be possible in this day and age, but we just don’t seem to learn from the past.”
No, sir, you don’t seem to learn from the past, not to mention those who are so fawningly devoted to you and your viewpoints. Well, perhaps, you and your devotees don’t so much learn from the past as you do ignore the past, all for the want of furthering your own political desires and, worse, dangerous viewpoints.
If you’ve paid attention to this past week’s news, you know that someone sent potentially dangerous packages to those who have voiced criticisms of or are serious opponents of You Know Who. The man who was charged this weeks for sending those packages was a devotee of You Know Who who made his viewpoints known in ugly messages found not only on social media but on his van.
And this week in a story from Kentucky that didn’t get as much attention as it should have, a white man spewing racist remarks went into a grocery store and murdered two black people. This occurred after he failed to gain entry into a predominantly black church.
And lest we forget, there was the news last weekend about You Know Who’s administration desiring to disavow any existence of transgender citizens.
This is an era where it’s scary to be branded an “other.” And, yes, it’s all thanks to You Know Who and his desire to rule over all he sees with malice toward those who aren’t white, Anglo-Saxon, straight, cis-gender, rich, male, or, as sadly proven yesterday, a follower of certain (so-called) Christian beliefs. He may deny it, but he is certainly, whether he intends it or not (though I think he intends it), the propellant of all this hate.
But just as we’ve had to do after Orlando, we so-called “others” will need to stay vigilant together against those with hate in their hearts and lethal weapons in their possession. But we mustn’t be afraid. With allies who possess more sane minds than You Know Who’s devotees, we must together call out those who have the temerity to make our country feel as if it were a certain European country where a certain evil man rose to power 8 decades ago.
We can start that fight at the ballot box this November, sure, but that shouldn’t be the only day to do so. Seek out someone who’s downtrodden or afraid. Comfort them. Lend them support or at least advice. Remind them that though evil bigots may have the biggest megaphones at the moment, we can together drown them out with our own positive words and actions… and our own temerity to live as ourselves.
My aforementioned social media friend from Pittsburgh is standing strong despite the tragedy in the neighborhood where she grew up. According to her Twitter posts, she’s planning to take part in a minyan this evening in support of those who lost their lives yesterday. Next weekend, she’s planning to head back home to offer support for those in her neighborhood, where her mother already has plans to meet up with neighbors in a spirit of collegiality as I write this. While they may be in mourning today, it’s for sure their spirits will withstand the heartbreak.
As I noted in that tweet above, nobody should live in fear or be put in danger just because of their religion, identity, or beliefs. Let’s work for a day when we can all truly live in peace.