Over the past week, we’ve endured some truly discouraging and heartbreaking news. From Oct. 22 until his Oct. 26 arrest, Florida resident Cesar Mayoc allegedly sent suspicious packages to former President Barack Obama and other noted critics of President Trump. On Oct. 27, Robert Bowers perpetrated a massacre in a Pittsburgh synagogue.
Such violent acts, which seem to occur incessantly throughout America nowadays, can no longer pass without a true call to action and the assurement that recent history won’t repeat itself; otherwise we’ll quite literally never escape this vicious cycle.
FBI investigators intercepted 14 packages, each of which containing explosive pipe bombs, addressed to liberal government officials and other prominent left-wing advocates. The near-recipients of these toxic packages include former President Barack Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden, former Secretary of State and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, and actor Robert De Niro.
With an assault rifle and three handguns at his disposal, Bowers, a man with a history of making anti-Semitic remarks online, killed 11 and injured six (including four police officers) toward the scheduled beginning of a typical Saturday synagogue service.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue is “one of the deadliest attacks on the Jewish community in the history of the United States.” Ultimately, Bowers surrendered to police and now faces 29 federal charges.
Although President Trump and other influential Republicans have publicly condemned the attacks against democracy and religion and called for a unified nation, I can’t help but treat their words as empty promises in light of the toxic environment they’ve created. These hate crimes and others of its ilk are the apex of Americans’ recent influx of indecency (e.g. racially-charged tirades, sexual assault, etc.), much of which can be attributed to the idea that social deviants won’t necessarily suffer the consequences for their reprehensible behavior.\
Instead of following the golden rule, a vocal sect of our population seems content to follow the golden spoon and stick it into their mouths (and said spoon must be quite slimy and decrepit from all the different tongues and bacteria that have come into contact with it).
Trump’s boisterous, uninhibited rhetoric has exacerbated divisiveness among Americans, and his inability to take responsibility or apologize for inciting violence certainly doesn’t help matters. Such propositions as increasing the number of armed guards inside buildings and imposing the death penalty more strictly aren’t exactly the most productive, either. Trump should treat each incident as more than either a mere introductory footnote to his ego-stroking rallies or a convenient opportunity to send a less-chaotic, yet also more half-hearted tweet than usual. Likewise, Republican leaders shouldn’t be allowed to let these tragic events pass purely for the sake of political gain.
Although critical politicians’ responses have been less than ideal, we maintain a personal responsibility to act accordingly. It’s terrifying to think that such a reputable establishment as our national postal service, or such a sacred haven as a congregational church, can be fraught with peril.
We can’t allow fear to discourage us from living proactively, nor can we tolerate discrimination against those who set themselves apart from the average American citizen. Furthermore, we must not equate free speech to unfettered hate speech, nor create a real-life first-person shooter or battle royale that rewards stealthy murder tactics (especially because the dead won’t respawn in this case).
By enacting sensible gun control legislation, fortifying mental health care, improving the USPS screening process and continuing to hold people accountable for immoral behavior, we can significantly lessen the occurence of crimes against humanity.
Ultimately, we shouldn’t box ourselves into opposite sides of a political civil war; rather we must stack together our moral values and target cooperation. Instead of becoming desensitized to these routine violent acts (which I admittedly have to some extent), we should use the mounting casualties to fuel the fire that repairs our broken society.
Michael Katz is a contributor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email firstname.lastname@example.org.