Four commentaries


The Washington Post/Newsweek religion Web site has published four short commentaries on the shooting:

Jonathan Sarna (professor, Brandeis University): "It’s open season on Jews," one of my friends remarked upon hearing the news of the shooting at the Holocaust Museum. The response, I first thought, sounded like typical Jewish paranoia. The alleged shooter was an 88- year-old white supremacist fanatic operating alone, and his only victim, in the end, was a non-Jewish security guard. Why magnify an isolated incident into an incipient pogrom? But, on second thought, isn’t this the third "isolated incident" directed against Jews in just over a month? …

Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite (professor, Chicago Theological Seminary): Conservative America ridiculed the Department of Homeland Security when it issued a report just two months ago that warned right-wing extremism was likely to rise in this country due to economic and political changes. The report was aptly titled "Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment." In it, the DHS specifically talked about the "potential emergence of terrorist groups or lone wolf extremists capable of carrying out violent attacks." … I have come to the place where I feel we need to demand that the conservative talkers who stoke hatred be included as we analyze this rise in hate-based extremism in the United States. We need to ask what responsibility do the professional media haters have for helping to create the climate of hate and fear that turns fear and loathing as "political commentary" into shooting and murder? I have been dismissing the Rush Limbaugh’s or Sean Hannity’s in our country because they have seemed to me to be beneath contempt (and so obviously wrong all the time). But after reading the DHS report, as I did today, I believe I have changed my mind. …

Susan Jacoby (author, "The Age of American Uneason"):  Details about today’s shooting at the Holocaust Museum are sketchy, but it is reasonable to assume that the shooter hated Jews–just as it was reasonable to assume that the gunman who assassinated Dr. George Tiller hated anyone who provided legal abortions to women. What more is there to say? Officer Stephen Tyrone Johns is the latest hate crime victim. We live in a nation in which any lunatic motivated by racial, religions, political, or just plain personal hatred can buy a gun and use it. … Our craven politicians refuse to do anything about the access of these people to firearms, and the damage they have done to our social fabric, over and over, will continue. John F. Kennedy. Martin Luther King. Robert F. Kennedy. Dr. Tiller. Now Stephen T. Johns, a police officer just doing his job. Why are we always "shocked" when such crimes occur? Mean and crazy people with guns kill people. You can’t eliminate mean and crazy people, but you can impede their ability to buy deadly weapons.

Sharon Brous (rabbi, IKAR, a Jewish spiritual community in Los Angeles): … Surely these acts of violence – tragic and terrifying – remind us that hatred of Jews remains a potent and dangerous reality. But it would be far too easy for us to respond to the horror of this shooting with cynicism or despair. It would be a double tragedy if this serves only to reinforce our sense that the world is against us and we therefore need to withdraw from dialogue and fortify against an ever-present enemy intent on destroying us. … We cannot allow acts of violence to distract us from this vision. I found it deeply heartening that within a couple of hours of this shooting I received several press-releases from local and national Muslim organizations condemning the attack, standing in solidarity with the Jewish community and repudiating the hatred and intolerance that lead to murder. Even as we grieve, let us keep our eyes on the prize. We are indeed at the dawn of a new day, and must remain fully dedicated to courageously walking the path toward understanding, healing and peace.

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