White supremacy takes lives

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author: marty grande-sherbert | op-ed editor


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Eleven people were killed on Saturday during a baby-naming ceremony at a synagogue in Pittsburgh. May their memories be a blessing and may they be at peace. When I found out, I had just finished my sabbath morning prayers. My day of rest has since then slid into an emotional state where, more than usual, I feel that the political right has blood on their hands. 

I don’t normally formulate an article so late into the deadline, but I am writing this one on the day of publishing, coherence be damned. I feel that I can’t pretend this week didn’t happen and that we don’t have a responsibility to pay attention. Things are getting serious – for everyone. This incident, although a prime example of the violent anti-Semitism which Jewish people have always struggled against, is also not isolated from violence against other communities. Anti-Semitism comes out of white supremacy, an ideology of the far right with millions of victims in past and present. 

Brazil has just elected a president who is openly misogynistic, openly homophobic, and whose policies threaten to level the Amazon. Canada’s CBC recently responded to this with a piece explaining how good the new president would be for our mining investments. Meanwhile, Brazilians are already frantic to escape with their lives. 

Bombs were mailed to American democrats. Two black people were killed while grocery shopping in the same week as the Pittsburgh shooting – another hate crime.  

Immigrants to the United States continue to be unjustly detained in camp-like complexes. Indigenous people in Canada continue to be denied truth and reconciliation in the face of the murder and abduction of their children, both inside and outside government institutions. Reserves go without drinkable water. Homes lie empty while homeless people freeze.  

I heard from so many of my Jewish friends and peers on social media that they were afraid this week to reveal their identity. I heard from Black Jewish people who feared that this would increase the presence of police in synagogues, police who make them feel more wary than safe. I heard from Jewish activists who insisted that now more than ever we need to show solidarity with other victims of white supremacy – and with refugees, through Jewish organizations like the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society that the shooter was rallying against. 

I saw, most importantly, amazing compassion from people who were facing attacks on all sides in this political climate and still remembered to check in on their friends, asking if they could offer comfort within grief. We need to make sure that each of us is one of those people. Right now, fascism is seriously threatening us. White supremacy has killed people for a long time, but in this political atmosphere and all under the threat of climate destruction, fascists are getting bolder. We need to stand up to respond if we have any chance of slowing them down.  

People died this week. This is a real battle, and lives are being lost; it’s not “just politics.” We need to stand up when people support white supremacy, with their words, with their social interactions, and G-d forbid with their actions. We need to show up for each other, because it is together that we can win.  

I am tired, frustrated, and heartbroken. I send love to all who feel the same. I encourage future contributors of the Carillon to use this humble paper as a vehicle for their calls to justice; we need all we can get. 

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