Vigil participants hold candles and sing a Jewish prayer during a Havdalah vigil for the victims of the Tree of Life Congregation shooting in front of the White House on Oct. 27, 2018. (Photo: Alex Edelman/Getty Images)
“For the past three years, your words and your policies have emboldened a growing white nationalist movement. You yourself called the murderer evil, but yesterday’s violence is the direct culmination of your influence.”
By Jessica Corbett / 10.29.2018
More than 16,000 people reportedly have signed on to an open letter to President Donald Trump from the Pittsburgh chapter of the progressive Jewish group Bend the Arc that declares the president is unwelcome in the city until he completely denounces white nationalism in the wake of a mass shooting at a local synagogue on Saturday that killed 11 congregants.
“For the past three years your words and your policies have emboldened a growing white nationalist movement. You yourself called the murderer evil, but yesterday’s violence is the direct culmination of your influence,” the letter reads. “President Trump, you are not welcome in Pittsburgh until you fully denounce white nationalism.”
“You are not welcome in Pittsburgh until you stop targeting and endangering all minorities,” the letter continues. “You are not welcome in Pittsburgh until you cease your assault on immigrants and refugees… You are not welcome in Pittsburgh until you commit yourself to compassionate, democratic policies that recognize the dignity of all of us.”
The letter comes as part of a broader demand for, as Phyllis Bennis and Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II wrote for The Nation on Sunday, “the strongest, most powerful, most unequivocal unity of all those who face racist, anti-Semitic, xenophobic, Islamophobic, homophobic, misogynistic, transphobic violence, a unity to bring down the forces of white supremacy and hate.”
“We have to mobilize, organize, and vote as never before,” they explained. “We must vote against policy violence and physical violence. We must vote against gun violence and the proliferation of guns. We stand against any politicians’ words that demean and diminish the humanity of whomever they deem ‘the other,’ because in so doing they legitimize more violence.”
That sense of solidarity against the white supremacy and hate that fuels violence was evident in the vigils that were held throughout the weekend, in Pittsburgh and other cities across the country, following the fatal Saturday morning shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood.
At one Pittsburgh gathering, attendees chanted “vote.”
Vigils were also held in Boston; New York; Washington, D.C.; Chicago; Houston; and many other cities.
In response to “the love pouring out toward the Jewish community from all sectors of this society” since the massacre on Saturday, Rabbi Michael Lerner wrote for Tikkun, “The good news is this: despite the negativity, hurtfulness, and evil that has increasingly gotten support by the Trump administration and sections of the Republican Party, there is a fundamental decency and goodness in most people on this planet and in the U.S.”
“It is our task to affirm and strengthen that loving energy rather than sink into despair,” he concluded. “The only real way to ‘resist’ the growth of fascistic consciousness is to build a movement that replaces ‘American first’ with ‘love first.'”