In July 2012, I heard a speech by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum that now seems sadly prophetic: “Those in power begin to dehumanize particular groups or scapegoat them for their country’s problems. Hatred not only becomes acceptable; it is even encouraged. It’s like stacking dry firewood before striking the match. Then there is a moment of ignition. The permission to hate becomes permission to kill.”
Alfred Munzer, Washington
Regarding the Oct. 28 front-page article “11 killed in shooting at Pittsburgh synagogue”:
On Saturday, a lone shooter carried out a vicious attack at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh celebrating Shabbat, taking the lives of 11 people. This deadly attack on the Jewish community came after the shooter reportedly made anti-Semitic proclamations such as “All Jews must die.”
The rise of lone-wolf hate crimes following divisive politics in our country is extremely alarming and arguably the gravest challenge we face. In this case, the attack was not directly perpetrated by our leadership, but it is clear that seditious rhetoric has created an atmosphere that is influencing lone-wolf attacks.
With great power comes great responsibility, responsibility that is being undermined as of late. The continuous divisive rhetoric and actions in our country — including separating migrant children from parents, proposed travel bans and slashing the refugee cap to its lowest level in more than 30 years (45,000) — have led to dangerous ripple effects.
Jariullah Adnan, Severn
I commend the GOP machine for quickly circling the wagons to deflect any suggestion that President Trump bears even a smidgen of responsibility for creating the environment that produced the pipe bomber and the Pittsburgh synagogue shooter because, hey, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) wasn’t responsible for one of his supporters shooting up a Republican softball practice. I hope the Republican elected officials and quasi-officials at Fox News spewing such false equivalence are simply partisan hacks rather than senseless dupes. After all, Mr. Sanders has not devoted his political life to fostering fear, divisiveness, hate and racism and encouraging supporters to inflict physical violence on political opponents.
Kevin McCormally, Washington
Writing in response to the lethal attack on synagogue attendees in Pittsburgh and the pipe bombs sent to prominent public figures, Max Boot’s Oct. 28 Sunday Opinion column bore the title “This is not what America is about.” But, unfortunately, this is what America is about today. To claim otherwise is to fail to come to grips with the dark side of America in the past and the present. Racism, anti-Semitism and white supremacy, and the violence that these attitudes inspire, continue to haunt America. This is not what America should be about. One important step in moving us from where we are to where we should be is to ban the sale of firearms that turn hate into slaughter.
Frank Miller, Chevy Chase
After the shock, grief and outrage that another mass shooting brings to Americans, will anything change? With these abhorrent acts having occurred in a synagogue, churches, public schools, a movie theater, a nightclub, an outdoor concert, college campuses, an army base, a fast-food restaurant and even a one-room Amish schoolhouse, are we safe anywhere? Why has the private ownership of 390 million guns in the United States reached 40 percent of all privately owned guns in the world? How have the Second Amendment and “a well regulated Militia” become the rationale for our private arsenal of weapons? Why does Congress fail repeatedly to pass widely supported legislation that would expand background checks or ban military-grade, assault-style weapons? How many Americans are aware that career contributions to members of Congress from gun rights groups, including the NRA, total more than $13 million? Am I a cynic or a realist when I assume that it is just a matter of weeks before another mass shooting will take place in our country?
What does it profit a citizenry if we shall gain the whole world and all of its power, affluence and might if, in the end, we lose our own soul?
Julius Neelley, Lake Monticello, Va.
Are you appalled by another gun tragedy, followed by politicians offering the usual “thoughts and prayers”? Next Tuesday is Election Day. Vote for candidates who are bold enough to go beyond thoughts and prayers to action on effective gun laws. The present Congress has proved unwilling to pass sensible gun laws, laws that outlaw semiautomatic guns, buy back those already out there, restrict the number and type of guns or subject gun owners to rigorous tests for licenses and license renewals. Vote to prevent future attacks on innocent victims.
Marjorie Kravitz, Rockville
Regarding the Oct. 28 editorial “Unacceptable”:
Charles Evans Hughes, chief justice of the Supreme Court from 1930 to 1941, spoke of rancor and bigotry, racial animosities and intolerance as “the deadly enemies of true democracy, more dangerous than any external force because they undermine the very foundations of democratic effort.” He was speaking in 1927 at the time of his co-founding of the National Conference for Christians and Jews.
Hughes, the only son of an immigrant, saw clearly that bigotry and intolerance threatened our way of life, and is more dangerous, he warned, when it is armed, as it usually is, with sincere conviction.
Margaret West, Washington