Thoughts after the Pittsburgh and Louisville Shootings

I posted this on Facebook last Monday morning right after the Pittsburgh shooting. I’m belatedly posting here:

There is so much to say that is too hard to say, but it must be said. We mourn, and we work harder than ever to fight the fascists.

First, I want to note another racist shooting earlier this week in Kentucky that has been overlooked. A white supremacist executed a black grandfather in front of his grandson in a grocery store, then shot a black woman in parking lot, declared his racism, after trying to break into a black church. You could read about them in the link here.

It is time to be honest and loud about something many of us have known for a long time, but have been too polite or too collegial to say.

1. We already knew Trump is a racist, but we also need to speak out about his anti-Semitism.

2. Trumpism is fascism.

3. Trump engages in stochastic terrorism.

4. We need to explain this to people: to Trump supporters, to Republicans who think they can separate their party from Trumpism, and to many people who engage in “both sides” false equivalence. Enough.

It’s time to recognize that we are living in Weimar America. There is a fascist in the White House, enabled by Vichy Republicans. Are there good Republicans out there? Absolutely. But like everyone else, they need to speak out and organize against Trump. The New Hampshire primary and the Iowa caucus of 2020 are just 14 months away. I’m talking to my friends about Democratic presidential candidates. If you’re a Republican who is not yet talking about whom to support against Trump in 2020, then you are enabling fascism.

I’ve been posting about “stochastic terrorism” over the past year. “Stochastic terrorism” is defined as “the public demonization of a person or group resulting in the incitement of a violent act, which is statistically probable but whose specifics cannot be predicted.” We had three episodes of stochastic terror last week, affected by Trump’s racist and dehumanizing politics. I’ll be writing more about Trump, his anti-Semitic signals, and the fine line between white nationalism and fascism soon.

But the bottom line is that we Jews have a special responsibility. The media might overlook the racist execution of black people, and it certainly participated in the fear-mongering about the caravan of brown people (asylum-seekers, like our families fleeing Nazi Europe, like Danya’s grandparents, like my great-grandfather fleeing Russia to Alabama. We Jews were once considered brown and dirty, too. And to many more in America than we’d like to think, we are still brown and dirty and sub-human). But the media listens to us more than they listen to the voices of black and brown people.

We aren’t politicizing a tragedy.

It was already political.

It was political when Trump retweeted an anti-Hillary post by an anti-Semite with a huge Jewish star on a background of dollar bills.

It was political when he and his sons embraced “the Deplorables” and the symbol for the white nationalists, Pepe the Frog, a signal of racist and anti-Semitic hate.

It was political when Trump wouldn’t disavow David Duke.

It was political when his closing campaign ads demonized a series of specific Jewish individuals – Soros, Yellin, Blankfein – as evil Wall St. types.

It was political when Charlottesville marchers chanted “Jews will not replace us,” and Trump said they were “good people” on both sides.

It was political when he continued to demonize Soros and (((globalists))), even on the day the MAGA bomber was arrested last week in Florida.

[update: The day immediately after visiting Pittsburgh,Trump continued to fear-monger and spread the same conspiracy theory that the Pittsburgh shooter cited, that Soros was funding the caravan.]

And it was political when he called for the death penalty for the innocent Central Park Five.

And it was political when he made the dehumanization of Muslims and Latinos his campaign platform.

And it was political when he said Mexicans coming to American were “rapists,” “drug-dealers,” and “criminals.”

It was political when he demonizes peaceful black protesters as “sons of bitches.”

I could go on and on.

The demonization of Muslims, blacks, Latinos, and Jews – the Trump platform – has always been political. And events like Louisville and Pittsburgh and the MAGA bomber are inevitable. We aren’t politicizing them. We are saying, “Stop politicizing us – our souls, our lives, our parents, our grandparents, our kids, our right to exist. ENOUGH.”

When they go low, we still need to go high. But going high now means LOUD AND DIRECT AND FIERCE AND FEARLESS.

Fight back with dignity. Let’s show the neo-Nazis that they are right to fear Jewish power. The political power of speech, the power of our experience over 2000 years surviving hate and only getting stronger, the power of organization, the power of the vote, the power of public service, the power of supporting even more asylum seekers and refugees from all over the world. Thank God for those who protected us, and may we bless the memories of those many before us who were unprotected. It’s time to honor those memories by fighting back for ourselves and our demonized and brutalized brothers and sisters.

Don’t just vote. Volunteer. Help refugees. Organize. Make calls. Write. Speak out.

Tzedek tzedek tirdof. V’im lo achshav, matai?

Justice, justice, shall you pursue.

If not now, then when?

Author: Jed Shugerman

Legal historian at Fordham Law School, teaching Torts, Administrative Law, and Constitutional History. JD/PhD in History, Yale. Red Sox and Celtics fan, youth soccer coach. Author of "The People's Courts: Pursuing Judicial Independence in America" (2012) on the rise of judicial elections in America. I filed an amicus brief in the Emoluments litigation against Trump along with a great team of historians. I'm working on "The Rise of the Prosecutor Politicians," a history of prosecutors and American politics, and another project on the origins of independent agencies in America.

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