Nationalists, populists, rightists, racists, antisemites – whatever you call them – are all over the world now. Merkel is leaving leadership of Germany, Brazil just elected a potential dictator. Ditto Italy. Russia is back to a dictatorship. China is becoming one.
Their populations traded democracy for security – and lost their freedom.
But here’s what’s different about us. Our freedom is guaranteed in the Constitution. It is – at its core – a defense of individual rights, including freedom of religion.
We can’t lose our rights. Right?
Wrong. None of them, no matter how revered, are guaranteed.
They can be weakened by other laws, by strong-armed leaders, by apathy or just plain bigotry. Unless the essence of the ideals are taught in schools and held high every day by you and me, they are in trouble.
Last Saturday, 11 Jews in Pittsburgh lost their rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, not to mention freedom of religion, to a guy with an AR-15 and 3 Glocks. He shot them dead and wounded 6 others. It was the biggest killing of Jews – just for being Jews – in US history.
Why did he shoot them? Because he was scared, this guy who was carrying an AR-15 and 3 Glocks. He was scared that Jews are going to commit genocide in the US. Really. He believed 2.2 % of the country is going to commit genocide on the other 97.8%, because “Jews are the children of Satan”.
“I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered”, he said just before acting on his beliefs.
He is a classic believer without facts.
He was spouting is Nazi propaganda, once left in the ashes of WWII, now revived by the internet. While our public schools are dropping courses on civics and the Constitution, the internet is adding courses on hatred and bigotry.
I wonder if we’re approaching a time when being Jewish in the US is as unhealthy as being black.
Of course, 11 killed and 6 wounded is small potatoes, compared to, say, all those other mass murders by a deranged killer, right?
Wrong. He’s not mentally ill, according to the police, this guy, who I won’t honor by naming. He is not a just a lone, deranged killer who too easily got some guns and went on a killing spree.
And that’s the point. He’s not just a single guy at all. He’s an attitude, a conviction that started small in the late 1930’s and grew into the Holocaust. He is a belief system based on lies, not facts.
In another classic case of using tragedy to further his and the NRA’s agenda, our President skipped the obvious – that 80 year old propaganda targeted those worshippers – and immediately proposed adding guns to places of worship, just as he had for schools.
“Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy guns.“
I could launch into the idiocy of “Guns don’t kill; people do”, but anyone who’s watched the increase in gun deaths along with the increase in gun rights knows that. I could write about Australia barring guns in 1986 and their gun deaths drop 70% by 2016, but facts like that mean nothing in the US.
Believers without facts have always caused trouble. The Crusades was a war by Christians on Muslims because Muslims had control of some of their holy sites. Christians, for God’s sake, the “turn the other cheek” religion.
“Onward Christian soldiers, marching onto war”. Remember that hymn?
Christians thought they won the Crusades. But for the Taliban, the war never stopped. The holy site issue is long gone – fact – but the Taliban brought down the Twin Towers anyway.
You can find lots of facts in the Bible, but not the fact that the Jews killed Christ, which is the single biggest motivator for people to hate Jews.
The Romans killed Jesus by crucifying him, a Roman method, not a Jewish one. There were some politics among Jewish leaders, which put Jesus in the bulls-eye, but the Romans killed him, not the Jews.
It is 2018. How can someone still believe Nazi propaganda? How can 11 innocent people get killed and 6 more wounded – by a guy who fears Jews?!
Because we’re losing respect for facts over beliefs. Because we have a President who foments and manipulates bigotries and hatred to his own ends. Because civics and the Constitution are electives, not required courses. Because the internet spreads lies faster than truths.
Because a believer without facts, but with an AR-15 and 3 Glocks, can.