A deadly shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, USA killed eleven people. Reportedly, a gunman barged into the synagogue, opened fire while screaming: “All Jews must die.” This ghastly incident has exposed the deep divisions that are becoming sharper and violent in America under Trump administration.
The shooter Robert Bowers was arrested later who espouses anti-Semitic views. Investigators have also checked a social media platform Gab where Bower’s posts targeted the Jewish people with threats of violence. This shooting adds to the long list in recent years. Places of worship frequented by Sikhs, African Americans and Muslims have been vandalized and/or attacked.
Earlier in the week, the authorities arrested Cesar Sayoc, a Trump supporter, who allegedly sent pipe bombs to former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, financier George Soros, former CIA director John Brennan, CNN, among others.
Since President Trump’s ascension to power, the climate of hate has become more pronounced with incidents against religious minorities – Muslims and Jews – increasing by the day. In a country that upholds freedom of speech, press, assembly and religion, this state of affairs is shocking.
The shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh has invoked multiple demands to hold the president of the United States to account for his inappropriate, often bordering on the hateful, rhetoric. But it is not just about Trump anymore. The Republican Party is not only aiding such developments but is creating a new normal where attacks on the press and minorities will be far more acceptable than in recent decades.
Yet, President Trump remains undeterred. While he denounced political violence in a speech he openly backed the chants to “lock” up global philanthropist George Soros. In another rally in Charlotte, his supporters raised the slogan “CNN sucks.” He told the reporters that instead of toning down the rhetoric he “could really tone it up.” In a few days, the US electorate will be electing members of legislatures across the country and Trump is risking widespread political violence for electoral gains. This is not too different from BJP’s attempts in India to exacerbate religious differences for power.
It is time for the saner elements within the Republican Party and the US administration to take note of the growing bigotry in the country. The US is adept at lecturing other countries on religious freedom and democracy while its own house seems to be in severe disorder. *
Published in Daily Times, October 29th 2018.