We Can Be Better Than This: Americans Must Repudiate Politics of Hate

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Statement of Common Cause President Karen Hobert Flynn

The violence and hate witnessed in the mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is an affront to the dignity of each individual human life and the freedom to worship enshrined in our Constitution. The shocking increase in antisemitism in 2017, 57% according to the Anti-Defamation League, has led to the single deadliest attack on Jewish people in American history. As an isolated event that would be horrific.

But the mass shooting in Pittsburgh comes at the end of a week in which at least 14 pipe-bombs were sent to political leaders of the Democratic Party and other critics of President Trump and the suspect had a history of violence and was seen as a rabid partisan. Also, this week two African Americans were killed in Kentucky after a shooter failed to gain entry to a black church. When another person with a gun approached the killer said, “Don’t shoot me, whites don’t kill whites.” Sixty-percent of hate crimes in 2017 were targeted because of bias against race or ethnicity, and all hates crimes increased for the second year in a row, according to the FBI’s annual report.

We call on all Americans to repudiate this political hate in each and every conversation with family, friend, and colleagues. We cannot ignore the racist and intolerant invective we see in politics, repeated by some news commentators, and flourishing online.  Our own president needs to repudiate this hate speech and own his own very significant contributions to setting the tone that makes people think it is okay to vilify and attack politicians, judges, reporters and others who they don’t agree with.

We cannot ignore the proximity of these events to the Midterm Election nor can we see them in isolation any longer. To do so is to join the conspiracy of complicity that has kept too many people from standing up against the perversion of our political debate by fringe elements that has been inching its way into the mainstream.

Each and every eligible American can and should make a statement to repudiate this corruption of our democracy by making sure they vote in this election and to vote for candidates who will bring us together, not divide us further.