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Paula Joan Caplan's Authors Guild Blog

Hatred and Violence: The Pittsburgh Murders and Thoughts About Actions to Take

I have recently read about what happened in and around Vilna as the Nazis came to power, and it is uncanny and terrifying in that context to hear the tragic news of the shootings of Jews in the Pittsburgh synagogue both because of the deaths and injuries of those victims and because they took place in an increasingly hate-filled nation whose President and his supporters feed anti-Semitism, racism, misogyny, xenophobia, homophobia, and transphobia.

 

I find myself flailing around, wondering what we can do beyond what we are already doing. VOTE, of course.

 

But people I talk to feel both powerless because there is so much of this hate and so much condoning of violence at the highest levels of power in government and in the NRA that it is hard not to despair about the difficulty of rooting all of this out. But there are entities fighting hate that we can support. My mother's father, Nate Karchmer, was an early supporter of the Anti-Defamation League, which has long fought anti-Semitism and also made common cause with the targets of racism. And in the wonderful book, World of Our Fathers (apologies for the sexism in the title), I learned for the first time about the HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society), which well over a century ago helped and supported Jewish immigrants to the U.S. The Pittsburgh murderer apparently loathed the HIAS, accusing them, Trumplike, of bringing in immigrants who kill people. Tonight I heard someone from HIAS say movingly that HIAS was established to help certain immigrants because they needed help and were Jewish, but lately, HIAS has aimed to help all immigrants, because those in HIAS are Jewish...and consider it of fundamental importance to provide that service.

 

The more that members of all oppressed groups, all groups targeted for hate speech and violence (and someone from the ADL said on TV tonight that hate speech becomes hate action), band together, the more reason there is to hope.

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