In the aftermath of the Pittsburgh massacre, I went to a massive (relatively speaking) rally in my Jewish community here in Wisconsin. At the event, I received a program whose back page prominently featured the following:
11 Small Acts to Help End Hate
- Shop at stores in neighborhoods that don’t look like yours
- Invite friends from different religions to celebrate a religious holiday with you
- Vote in elections
- Visit a museum to learn about a different culture
- Attend an ethnic or pride festival
- Help transport the elderly
- Be a big brother or big sister
- Write a letter to your local newspaper
- Work towards building diversity in the organizations you’re involved with like sports teams and PTO committees
- Learn about, and practice using gender neutral language
- Avoid scheduling meeting or events on ALL major holidays.
I found most of these suggestions lovely. But they also only work for compassionate, caring, loving, and decent people. I dare say that the mass murderer in Squirrel Hill would not have been swayed to not engage in his mass killing spree by attending an ethnic festival.
Mass murderers are evil. Mass murderers who target certain ethnic groups are evil. Mass murderers who randomly slay people at country music concerts, movie theaters, and high schools are evil. Attending a diversity-oriented activity will not make one bit of difference to a mass murderer.
Nazis do not attend interfaith freedom Seders. Hezbollah is not interested in learning Jewish folk dance. And Iran really does not care about using gender-neutral pronouns when referring to male or female Jews it wants to annihilate.
Evil must be confronted with superior force. The Torah laws of rodef – the murderous pursuer – are crystal clear. Kill him before he can kill others.
Several months have passed since the Pittsburgh shooting, and we run the risk of lapsing into passivity. We must hire armed guards for our synagogues. In states where carrying a concealed weapon is legal, we must train willing members and ask them to bring weapons to every Jewish function and service. We must also lobby the police to add additional patrols and security during Jewish holidays and services.
Visiting a Jewish museum may influence a basically decent person who perhaps harbors a vague or subtle prejudice. Only brute force, though, can stop truly evil people.