Following the recent attack on a Synagogue in Pittsburgh, I find myself at a loss as to how to respond to the dragging horror it shows me about our world. I haven’t responded on Facebook, or in emails to friends, because it all seems so momentous, so reminiscent of history, so tied up with gun laws, so tangled with the chaos of current politics and the President’s refusal to condemn bigotry, that it’s hard to know where to start. Even so, the one thing that is pushing me is the need to say something, anything to support my Jewish friends and the whole Jewish community. It is not okay to stay silent. Saying nothing implies that I don’t care, that I am content for this to be the new normal. I am NOT okay with that.
Normalization of hate-fueled behavior happens when there is no response to incidents of hate, to language of hate, to the fueling of fear-based politics; to the demonization of people because of their faith, the color of their skin, the country of their birth, or their gender identity. We need to shout our disapproval of those who would justify any of that on the basis of irrational fears, feelings of entitlement, or some kind of tribal hysteria.
The kind of irrational hate and rage that caused the outrage in Pittsburgh is a terrible thing. That it is symptomatic of a more widespread rage directed at different groups and seemingly fostered by an increasing number of governments around the world is so depressing that it is hard to know how to counter it. I think it can only be done by individuals being brave enough to speak up, in public, and loudly. How else can we sleep at night?
Polly is a former Concord resident who was chairperson for many terms between 1985 and 2010. She now resides in Cornwall, England, where she continues to fight for human rights.