LOS ANGELES, April 14, 2014 — On the day before Jews prepared to begin their sacred holiday of Passover, a pair of horrible events cast a pall over the Jewish community.
The Kansas Jewish Community Center became a tragic scene when a gunman opened fire. The gunman’s rampage also took him to the nearby retirement community of Village Shalom. The word “shalom” in Hebrew has three meanings. It translates to “hello,” “goodbye,” and “peace.”
Now three innocent Americans were forced to say goodbye to the world. For their families, there will be no more peace.
Hours before the shooting took place, another hateful individual was engaging in another act of hate. This earlier event, while not resulting in any deaths, still deserves notice.
New York Congressman Steve Israel, who also heads a House committee to elect Democrats, publicly accused Republicans of racism for not moving swiftly on immigration reform.
Rep. Steve Israel’s comments mirror House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi who similarly blamed racial issues for the GOP’s failure to act on comprehensive immigration legislation. Asked about Pelosi’s comments, Israel agrees.
“To a significant extent, the Republican base does have elements that are animated by racism. And that’s unfortunate,” said Israel. (AP)
Racism is a serious charge. It is at the core of what a deranged madman does when he chooses to murder innocents because of their lineage.
Israel’s comments are far less serious than a gunman spilling blood, but his remarks are not “nothing.” His words matter, and he should know better, especially during the Passover season.
Passover is the story of Jews escaping the bonds of Egypt. Forced to do hard labor, Jews fled their oppressors and successfully achieved freedom. The entire reason for the oppression was due to a phenomenon that is sadly all too common.
The Jews were different. The Egyptians inflicted physical and emotional harm on them solely due to their being Jews.
Anti-Semitism would eventually lead to the worst evil the world has ever known, the Holocaust. Six million Jews were murdered merely for being Jews.
While this act of evil in Kansas could be a random act, the initial evidence would point toward Jew-hatred. The suspect in custody is already being charged with a hate crime.
Many groups have experienced discrimination all over the world. In America, the Irish and the Italians were subjected to bigotry. Blacks were victims of slavery. Gays, women and other groups have fought for their own rights. No group has suffered as unimaginable horror as what was done to the Jews of the Holocaust.
For this reason, it is especially heartbreaking when a man belonging to the most bullied and victimized group in the history of civilization becomes a bullying oppressor himself.
There is no worse epithet that a bigot can toss at another person than a racial or ethnic slur. There is no worse blood libel that can be spread than somebody bearing false witness in accusing another of racism or bigotry.
Steve Israel did not kill anybody, but he did do harm with his remarks.
It is Israel and his fellow liberals who have long argued that cruel words lead to violent actions. Whenever a murder takes place, liberals in high profile jobs in government and media reflexively blame Fox News, talk radio, conservative politicians, and tea party attendees.
Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin and others wanting lower taxes are seen as fomenting “hate speech.”
More often than not, the killer turns out to be an apolitical mentally deranged individual or a leftist. The story is then dropped for not following the “conservatives are murderers” script.
Like many liberals, Israel is guilty of projection. Rather than have an honest discussion about an emotionally charged issue, Israel chooses to take half the country and demonize them. Wanting to secure the American borders North and South is a national security issue, but it is much easier to demagogue Republicans as hating brown-skinned individuals.
This is destructive. It is dehumanizing, and stripping away an entire group’s humanity is the first step toward eliminating them altogether.
Steve Israel is not going to go on a shooting rampage. He is not going to murder Republicans. However, his words do stoke anger and resentment, pitting one group of people straight at another group.
If an illegal immigrant were to target Republicans tomorrow, would Steve Israel feel an ounce of guilt?
Hating any group of people is wrong. Accusing an entire group of people of hatred without any proof is also wrong.
Three people in Kansas are dead because one man chose to spread hatred in the worst possible way.
When Steve Israel sits down at his own Passover Seder, he may wish to remember that he holds a position of significant power and influence. With that comes responsibility.
After all, if Steve Israel were to God forbid be harmed, those conservative Republicans he castigates would be the first people to try and save him. They would practice love thy neighbor, even when that love is not always earned.
The world would be better off if we all prayed more, loved more, and stopped demonizing people just for being different from us. Racial and ethnic bigotry are poison. So is ideological bigotry.