I have submitted this as a letter to the editor to two Atlanta-area newspapers, but I would like to share it here as well. The horrific shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on Saturday morning, October 27, haunted me. I was filled with sadness and rage. This morning, I learned that it was the worst act of anti-Jewish violence in American history. I was moved to write from my heart the following morning. Words can lead to violence, but perhaps they can lead to healing as well. In that spirit, I will follow this post with another one soon about our newest exhibit, Enduring Tension: (En)countering Antisemitism in Every Age.
|This rainbow witnessed on the night of my grandmother's death is a source of inspiration for me in times of trouble.|
October 28, 2018
Dear Mr. President,
Again, our nation is in mourning for eleven people cut down in their house of worship. The killer’s motivation was well-documented. Yes, he is an antisemite. But he was moved to take action by an acute fear of refugees, a fear undeniably stoked by you and your supporters.
Since you began your presidential campaign, I have heard a lot about “law and order.” You claim to care about the safety of the American people above and beyond all others in the world. Yet, in this moment in America, I have never felt less safe. I commend you for your quick condemnation of this most recent mass shooting, and I agree that gun safety is not the central issue at hand. However, safety for your beloved American citizens must not depend on their ability to employ armed guards at their houses of worship every Sabbath. It is time for you to take responsibility for the power of your rhetoric.
Yes, fear brings people to the polls. Fear of immigrants, whom you’ve characterized as criminals, rapists, terrorists disguised as families fleeing foreign wars, this fear may secure your party’s power. You have the power, and you are unlikely to lose it as long as people feel threatened by forces you have carefully portrayed as coming from the outside. But you have unleashed the power of that fear within our borders. You have released a poison into the hearts and minds of Americans, and you must take responsibility. If you care about America, its greatness, and it’s safety, you must acknowledge the power of your words to do more than bring cheering throngs to your rallies. You must acknowledge the power of your words to motivate people to do violence to citizens enjoying America’s most essential freedom. The freedom to worship God on a peaceful October morning.
Curator of the Museum of History and Holocaust Education at Kennesaw State University
Mother and Wife
Great-granddaughter of Immigrants Fleeing Antisemitism in Europe
Decatur, GA, USA