By Jill Zipin and Burt Siegel
Easy access to guns, combined with racism and xenophobia emanating from the highest office in the land, has created a toxic brew in our nation.
President Donald Trump, through his words and deeds, has enabled white nationalist violence. He gives comfort and support to those who hate. The El Paso killer was a white supremacist who wrote “send them back,” echoing the words of Trump. He also spoke about a “Hispanic invasion” and called on immigrants to “return to their home countries.” It is Trump’s rhetoric that has radicalized the white nationalist terrorists in our midst. We saw it in Pittsburgh where our community was targeted and we have seen it in Charleston, Gilroy, Christchurch and Poway.
We as Jews are blamed by white nationalists for the immigrant “invasion.” The websites of these hate groups blame the Jews generally and individually call out figures such as George Soros, Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg for assisting in the destruction of the white race. Trump mirrors their language when he uses words like “infestation” to describe immigrants and those seeking asylum in this country. The GOP, through the Republication Congressional Campaign Committee, asserted in a letter dated March 8, 2019, that these three Jews “bought control of Congress.” This is a classic anti-Semitic stereotype that easily could be found on any hate group’s webpage.
All elected officials must speak out against intolerance, even when it comes from the president of the United States. The GOP has been silent with respect to Trump’s racist screeds and has, as well, refused to enact much needed common-sense gun legislation. The GOP is complicit in what has transpired due to their inaction. Their silence has been deafening.
The GOP points the finger at Democrats on the issue of anti-Semitism but seems to ignore the hate emanating from within their own party. It is time for them to take a close look in the mirror; the hatred that is ignored or even worse permitted is now morphing into violence that cannot be contained due to our nation’s weak and nonexistent gun laws.
We at Democratic Jewish Outreach PA were horrified and deeply saddened by the 29 deaths that resulted from the domestic terror shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. Gun violence is a public health epidemic that can be solved by our elected officials if they take action. There have been over 250 mass shootings this year alone. The House has passed two common-sense anti-gun violence bills that now languish in the Senate as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has refused to act.
In the Pennsylvania House, there has not yet been a single hearing on the Extreme Risk Protection Order Bill that would keep guns out of the hands of those who present a danger to themselves or others.
We as Jews know what can happen when hatred and violence go unchecked. It is well past time for our elected officials, particularly those in the GOP, to speak out, to speak up and to act. How many more will have to die before the GOP decides enough is enough?
Jill Zipin is the chair and Burt Siegel is the vice chair of Democratic Jewish Outreach PA, a political action committee that supports Democratic candidates for federal office in Pennsylvania.