History as we know repeats

Jacob Steinberg, Co-Sports Editor

     For the Tree of Life Synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Penn., it was a celebratory Shabbat morning. A bris was scheduled during the morning services, which is the naming ceremony and celebration of the birth of a Jewish boy. What was meant to be a joyous occasion turned into a deadly tragedy in the matter of minutes as gunman Robert Bowers opened fire at 8:50 a.m. on Oct. 27, 2018.

     Eleven people were killed, and seven others were wounded. Among the survivors was Judah Samet, who survived 10 months in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Samet was four minutes late to services that morning. As he told the USA Today, “I was very lucky. Four minutes saved my life.” Samet lived to see the rise and fall of Nazi  Germany, only to survive a mass shooting.

     Bowers had a history of anti-Semitism. His previous statements on the alt-right social media network Gab included anti-Semitic conspiracy theories that the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, a Jewish non-profit organization that helps refugees, was “bringing invaders in that kill our people.” Bowers also posted on Gab,“There is no #MAGA without a kike infestation.” Before he entered the building, he shouted, “All Jews must die!”

     The Anti-Defamation League stated that the shooting was the deadliest attack on Jews in American history. When I got home from a long day of work, I was greeted to the news of the shooting. I rarely shed tears at news stories in today’s hectic news cycle, but this was an exception.

     Much of my family was in Pikesville, Md. that morning, a suburb of Baltimore which is located about four
hours west of Pittsburgh. They were celebrating my little cousin, who became a Bar Mitzvah that morning. A Bar Mitzvah is a ceremony of a Jewish boy entering adulthood.

     My mind immediately shifted to a ‘what if’ mode, as if it could have happened to my family. For Jews in our country, the unthinkable had finally occurred. 

     The product of extremism is becoming more accepted and legitimized by our political system. Our toxic culture has allowed hate to creep into the mainstream. Our country is becoming more diverse, which has exposed the deep hatred that is still left in many Americans.

     Our toxic culture has allowed a record number of neo-Nazis and white supremacists to run for office on platforms of bigotry be- cause they feel emboldened by our current political system. 

     The events that are occurring should be a reminder that we are letting history repeat itself. The resurgence of nationalism after a world-wide economic crisis is eerily similar to an event that we have all learned about in school.

     Our country is going through some very tough times now. It is important that Americans take some time and try to get a better under- standing of different types of people rather than surround ourselves with people who align with our beliefs. 

     It is time that we, as Americans, start listening to each other again instead of continually pointing fingers at each other. 

     The next time you encounter someone with opposing viewpoints, take some time to listen to them and try to understand how and why they feel a specific way to an issue.