Tag Archives: Pittsburgh shooting

Trump scraps domestic terror effort

Does it surprise you to learn that Donald J. Trump plans to toss out an Obama-era program to finance an effort to root out the causes of domestic terrorism?

Yeah, me neither.

That’s the plan, though, as the president reportedly is going to discontinue a grant program created by the Barack Obama administration that was supposed to be funded yearly. But no! The Trump administration said it’s a one-time-only grant. So the Department of Homeland Security won’t keep it going.

The timing of this announcement is stunning as well.

It comes a week after Cesar Sayoc was arrested on charges that he sent pipe bombs to opponents of Donald Trump, as well as to a major media outlet. They’re all Democrats, either politicians or Democratic political figures. Did I mention that two of the intended targets were former presidents of the United States and one of them is a former vice president? There. I just did.

So the president doesn’t want to keep this effort going.

Why is that? Oh, it’s no doubt going to be argued by some — and I can buy their argument — that Trump wants to get rid of it because it originated during Barack Obama’s time as president.

The Countering Violent Extremism Grant spends $10 million annually on efforts to examine the causes of domestic violence and terrorism. Yes, it’s a scourge in this country. Hate groups have gotten more brazen in recent years. The slaughter of 11 congregants at the Pittsburgh synagogue symbolizes what I’m talking about; a suspect has been arrested and charged with 29 hate-crime-related felonies.

But the president wants to discontinue a valuable grant aimed at rooting out domestic terrorism?


Docs set aside their own bias to do their job

What would you do … if someone is thrust into your care while he spews hatred against people of your faith?

Care for him? Would you call him what he is, a hate-filled bigot? Refuse to provide care?

Doctors and nurses who took care of the man accused of killing 11 worshipers at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pa., this past Saturday answered the call. They exemplified the meaning of true service to others, even those who profess blind hatred toward them all.

A Jewish doctor and a Jewish nurse administered first aid to the suspect in this horrifying incident. They did so with professionalism and, I’ll presume, care.

The doctors take an oath that says they should “do no harm.” Nurses also are trained professionally to provide the best medical care they can deliver.

These individuals found themselves placed into a most uncomfortable circumstance when they were asked — or ordered — to care for an individual who committed the hate crime in U.S. history against Jewish Americans.

Dr. Jeffrey Cohen, the top administrator at Allegheny General Hospital, told CNN that the suspect was still screaming that he wanted to kill Jews.

“And the first three people who are taking care of him are Jewish,” Cohen said. “I said, ‘Well yeah, ain’t that a kick in the pants?'”

Indeed, Cohen happens to worship at Tree of Life.

As CNN reported: “The FBI agent in charge looked at me and says, ‘I don’t know how you did that ’cause I’m not sure I could have,'” Cohen recalled.

Cohen acknowledged that some on his staff had “conflicting emotions” about Bowers but said ultimately Allegheny General has one mission: to take care of sick people, regardless of who they are or their circumstances.
“We don’t ask questions (about) who they are. We don’t ask questions about their insurance status or whether they can pay,” he told CNN. “To us, they’re patients.”

Muslims embrace Jews in wake of tragedy

At one level I am not surprised to hear this, but it still deserves a brief mention here.

Immediately after the gunman opened fire at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pa., killing 11 worshipers, Americans of all stripes rose up. They expressed their horror, their shock, their grief and even their anger over the anti-Semitic actions of the gunman.

Among those who rushed to the side of these stricken Jewish Americans were Muslim Americans who began raising money to assist the family members of the victims.

This back story fills me with a sense of gratitude, again not that it surprises me. Many of us have known all along that Americans who worship the Islamic faith are every bit as kind-hearted and empathetic as any group of Americans.

Indeed, Muslims have felt their own recrimination from those who react to the hideous horror brought by those who purport to act on behalf of Muslims. These are religious perverts. Yet their perversion is lost on many others.

So, when Muslims react with generosity and grief over the deaths of fellow Americans who happen to worship as Jews, it speaks to the notion that we really are the United States of America.

‘American carnage’ continues

This must be said: The most memorable line from Donald John Trump’s inaugural address didn’t appeal to our highest ideals, but instead it spoke to one of the scourges that plagues our society.

The president said on Jan. 20, 2017: “This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.”

Now, to be fair, he was referring to the scourge of drugs and gang violence. The law-and-order candidate who became president vowed to end the violence associated with that activity.

However, the “American carnage” that continues to plague us has spilled more blood, caused more heartache, shed more tears, delivered more grief to the nation.

Eleven worshipers at a Pittsburgh, Pa., synagogue were gunned down early Saturday. Four police officers were injured. The cops arrested a man in connection with the slaughter at the Tree of Life temple.

He reportedly is a virulent anti-Semite. He has committed the worst attack on the Jewish American community in U.S. history. The suspect faces charges associated with hate crimes.

The American carnage is continuing. There appears to be no sign of an end to it. The president is demonstrating — to the absolute non-surprise to millions of Americans — a jaw-dropping inability to comfort a nation in mourning.

Admittedly, this latest spasm of bloodletting isn’t “this American carnage” to which the new president referred in his inaugural speech. Nevertheless, it is an American carnage that needs the nation’s undivided attention.

Pittsburgh now joins the roster of communities stricken by mass murder: Littleton, Aurora, Orlando, Springfield, Charleston, Parkland, Orlando, Newtown, Blacksburg, Killeen, Santa Fe, Sutherland Springs … my goodness, I simply cannot remember all of them.

They all have been victimized by the “American carnage.”

Mr. President, you have work to do. Get busy.

Half-staff flags becoming more of a U.S. norm

I ran an errand a few minutes ago and noticed something along Stacy Road, a busy thoroughfare between Allen and Fairview, Texas.

It was the sight of flags flying at half-staff. Several business owners along the south side of Stacy had lowered the flags in front of them, no doubt because of the tragedy that erupted in Pittsburgh, Pa., this past weekend when an anti-Semitic gunman opened fire at the Tree of Life synagogue, killing 11 congregants.

Flags all across the land have been lowered to half-staff.

It makes my wife and me wonder: Is this becoming the new normal in this country?

We seem to be lowering flags and displaying them at half-staff at least as often as we fly them at the top of the flagpoles. I understand that’s probably not entirely accurate, but the sight of those lowered flags serve to remind us of yet another tragedy.

I am not naïve enough to think we’ll ever rid our society of these events. It’s just that they seem to be occurring with such increasing frequency.

This is such a sad thing to see.

Jewish leaders make remarkable demand of POTUS

It appears that any presidential outreach to the stricken Jewish community in Pittsburgh, Pa., is going to carry some provisions that I hope the president will honor.

Jewish leaders have told Donald Trump that he isn’t welcome in their city until he renounces white supremacists specifically and categorically. The demand came in the form of a letter written by members of Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice.

Members have demanded also that the president stop targeting minorities, such as those who are fleeing repression in Central America and have formed the so-called “caravan” en route north.

According to The Hill: “The Torah teaches that every human being is made … in the image of God. This means all of us,” the leaders wrote. “In our neighbors, Americans, and people worldwide who have reached out to give our community strength, there we find the image of God.”

Pittsburgh is mourning the deaths of 11 congregants of Tree of Life synagogue. A man known for his anti-Semitic views is under arrest for the slaughter of worshipers on Saturday, the Jewish Shabbat, or sabbath.

Donald Trump should go to the city. He should extend his hand. He should lend his full support. He already has condemned the massacre as an “assault on humanity.”

The Jewish leaders want more. They are demanding the president say something vastly different from what he declared in 2017 after the Charlottesville, Va., riot that left a young woman dead. He tossed blame at “both sides,” the Nazis, Klansmen and white supremacists, along with those who protested against them. He then declared there were “very fine people … on both sides.”

He needs to retract that hideous attempt at moral equivalence.

That’s what the Pittsburgh Jewish leaders are demanding.

Are you listening, Mr. President?

Fate delivers tragic blow to congregants … and the nation

I saw this list online and decided to post it here.

All the names tell a story. All the victims who died in the Tree of Life synagogue massacre this weekend leave behind those who loved them deeply and who cherished their relationship with God.

One of the names jumped out at me: Rose Mallinger.

Ms. Mallinger was 97 years of age when the gunman murdered her. I was struck as well by what I read about her. She attended temple without fail for many decades. She is being remembered by her friends and family members as a spry, lively, and lovely virtual centenarian.

Her daughter was among those wounded by the gunman. Ms. Mallinger’s daughter said her mother didn’t live like a 97-year-old.

Her fellow congregants called her “vivacious” and “vital.”

I am struck, too, by the fact that at 97 years of age, she was old enough to remember what happened in Europe to other Jews, who were rounded up and sent by the millions to concentration camps.

The Holocaust has to be considered the 20th century’s most horrific crime against humanity, one that took 6 million to 7 million lives. Why? Because the victims were Jewish and the Nazi tyrants who killed them considered them to be subhuman, not worthy of living, not worthy of rearing their families or of seeking a better life themselves and their loved ones.

The 11 victims of the hideous monster who killed them also have been denied their rights — as prescribed by their government — of “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

They have become martyrs. I am positive they wouldn’t want to be remembered for what happened to them while they worshiped. But they are. Forever.

My heart breaks for them all, but there’s something tragically poignant in knowing the age of a victim who died with memories of just how horrifying religious hatred can become.

And my heart breaks for our nation … where this horror originated.

Waiting for president to perform unwritten task

Presidents of the United States inherit an array of constitutional duties and, yes, unwritten and unspoken roles they must perform.

We expect it of them when the moment arrives. It almost always does so without warning.

A space shuttle explodes 73 seconds after liftoff and President Reagan consoles the nation in utter shock; another shuttle disintegrates on re-entry and President Bush performs the same duty; a bomber destroys a federal court building in Oklahoma City, and President Clinton steps up to soothe our anxiety; a madman slaughters 20 children and six teachers at a Connecticut elementary school and President Obama wipes away tears of anguish while honoring the victims.

Then, of course, there was 9/11 and President Bush called on the nation to mourn as one and to fight as one.

Someone mailed pipe bombs to Democratic political figures and a major cable news outlet. What do we get from the current president? We hear him fling blame at Democrats, at the “fake news” media, at his foes.

Donald Trump can recite the correct words. He has done so with regard to the pipe bombs that were mailed to his adversaries. He did so again in response to the massacre at the Pittsburgh synagogue this weekend.

I watch him and wonder whether he feels it. I cannot read his mind or plumb his heart and soul. It’s just a sense I get that he doesn’t embrace this role he agreed to play when he took the oath as president of the United States.

Donald Trump hears the calls for civility in our debate. He then accepts campaign rally crowds’ chants of “CNN sucks!” and doesn’t stop them. He doesn’t tamp down the rage among his supporters. He doesn’t tell them to quell the mob conduct.

Members of the administration have condemned the hatred demonstrated in recent days. The president has joined them in condemning the acts of hate crimes against religious groups … only to crack a joke about canceling an event because of a “bad hair day.”

I wish I could hope the president can learn how to perform this task. I cannot. I have lost that hope.

It saddens me beyond measure.

What if we had armed guards at the temple?

I feel like playing out a hypothetical situation that today sounds shockingly relevant.

What if there had been armed security guards posted Saturday morning at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pa., when the gunman opened fire, killing 11 congregants? The suspect is a known anti-Semite. He reportedly bellowed anti-Semitic statements as he was mowing down his victims, committing the worst known attack on the Jewish community in U.S. history.

Three of the individuals who were wounded by this moron are Pittsburgh police officers who, I can assume with supreme confidence, were carrying sidearms.

What does stop any idiotic son of a bi*** with a death wish, someone intent on committing “suicide by cop” by exposing himself to law enforcement’s firepower?

Will police or private security guards armed with, say, shotguns or rifles or pistols prevent someone from opening fire in this horrifying manner? I do not believe he — or she — would be deterred.

Donald Trump introduced the element of putting armed security around houses of worship while he was offering otherwise wholly appropriate remarks in response to the Pittsburgh massacre.

I happen to disagree with the idea the president has put forward.

Armed guards at the Tree of Life might have stopped many — if not most — of the deaths during the carnage. But not all of them. Thus, are we now going to quantify the pain we suffer by the number of people who die in such a senseless and hateful manner?

Let’s not go there.

No, Mr. POTUS, no guns at houses of worship

Donald J. Trump calls the massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pa., an “assault on humanity.”

The president is right. We need to treat this hideous tragedy as a hate crime. Eleven people were killed because they were Jewish. They were gathering at Tree of Life to celebrate Shabbat, the Jewish sabbath.

What does the president suggest as a possible response? He thinks putting “armed security guards” at houses of worship would stop this kind of carnage. Really? No sir. That is the wrong idea.

If we armed guards at the doors of sanctuaries where people go to worship whatever deity they choose to worship, where do we stop? Where do we draw the line on places that attract groups of people, sometimes large crowds of people?

Shopping malls? Grocery stores? Athletic events? Schools? Public parks?

The president suggests an armed society would deter those who commit evil acts.

I don’t accept that. The solution has to be more nuanced. It must require us to talk candidly and openly to each other. It must include a serious lowering of the volume and the temperature — and that volume and temperature adjustment must come from the top of the political food chain.

Armed guards won’t cut it.

Pittsburgh mayor speaks out