A young self-avowed white nationalist walks into a synagogue in Poway with an AR-15 rifle. Yelling anti-Semitic slurs, he shoots and kills Lori Gilbert Kaye, the mother of a current UCLA student. He wounds but does not manage to kill Rabbi Yisroael Goldstein, 8-year old Noya Dahan, and 34-year old Almog Peretz, who is shot in the leg while hurrying his children to the exit.
Later, the shooter’s manifesto is found online, clearly explaining his motivation. Consider the following brief sample:
“Every Jew is responsible for the meticulously planned genocide of the European race. They act as a unit, and every Jew plays his part to enslave the other races around him — whether consciously or subconsciously. Their crimes are endless.”
Seems clear to me.
Given these facts, I was frankly offended by the Daily Bruin Editorial Board’s recent piece which, for a reflection on a premeditated act of violence against Jews, has next to nothing to say about the community that was targeted, why it was singled out, and the ongoing threat it faces.
There is, to be fair, a brief mention of these facts: the shooting occurred at a synagogue during Passover, and one of the victims was a Rabbi (though it would have been impossible to meaningfully describe the event without this context).
But, none of the following words – “Jew,” “Jewish,” “anti-Semitism,” “white nationalist” or “white supremacist” – appear even once in the entire body of the editorial.
Rather, the Editorial Board chooses to genericize the targeted killings of Jews in their places of worship — at both Chabad of Poway and Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life. The shooters were expressly committed to the complete destruction of the Jewish people, yet the Editorial Board labels it as just another mass shooting in America, after which they simply endorse stricter gun control.
To be clear, there is no doubt in my mind that the prevalence of weapons like the AR-15s used by both synagogue shooters makes gun violence — including that directed intentionally at Jews — more likely and more devastating. There’s a fair and worthwhile debate to be had over whether or not America’s unique tradition of mass shootings is something best addressed by restricting civilian access to the most dangerous kinds of firearms, and I am strongly in favor of having that debate.
But, I fervently disapprove of the Editorial Board’s decision to erase the Jewishness from Poway and Pittsburgh and the white nationalists from behind the triggers. The victims were Jews, and they were killed in shul. They ought to be remembered as such.