Two sides of the same hateful coin. How can we combat the forces of extremism and mass violence in our society?
The nation watched in collective horror this weekend as news began to pour in about a Passover season shooting that took place in a California Synagogue on Saturday. A common reaction in the wake of a months-long spate of high-profile hate crimes focusing on peaceful religious people at prayer:
Please, God, not another one.
The details were all too familiar: A hateful manifesto, online radicalization, extremism focused this time on anti-Semitism; contrasted against tales of great heroism and sacrifice. 60-year old Lori Kaye gave her life to save her friend and Rabbi, jumping in front of a bullet meant for him.
Parents and grandparents shielded children with their own bodies. As always, the death toll would have been much higher were it not for a small miracle; this time, the shooter’s gun jammed.
Last week, a wave of Easter Sunday bombing attacks on Christians at churches in Sri Lanka claimed the lives of 290 people, some of them children. Jihadist extremists have been arrested in connection with the attack.
Just over a month ago, Christchurch. The deadly, well-planned Mosque attacks that claimed 50 lives left New Zealand to mourn those killed or injured and the hateful anti-Muslim sentiments behind the attacks.
Six months ago, the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh lost 11 congregants when an armed gunman opened fire on innocent people in their place of worship. Anti-semitism was the motive behind the attack.
These attacks, coming on the heels of attacks like the 9 people killed at a black Charleston church by a white gunman in 2015 during a Bible study, seem to be, and often are, designed to cause maximum suffering and outrage.
Many of the perpetrators of these heinous crimes indicate their desire to incite a race war. In this way, their motivation is not unlike that of radicalized Islamist jihadis who want to incite a religious war.