In the wake of the Pitts­burgh sy­n­a­gogue at­tack, we must work to cure the dis­ease of hate

The Island Packet (Sunday) - - Lowcountry Life - BY BRAD BLOOM

There are many analo­gies from medicine that can be ap­plied to the hor­rific shoot­ings at the Tree of Life sy­n­a­gogue in Pitts­burgh.

One of the most apt is sep­sis. Over the years, I have wit­nessed con­gre­gants fight and some­times suc­cumb to such life-threat­en­ing in­fec­tions that can shut down vi­tal or­gans. As sep­sis be­comes severe, blood flow to the brain, the heart and kid­neys can be im­paired. It can can cause blood clots in the or­gans and to the ex­trem­i­ties.

Physi­cians treat it ag­gres­sively with an­tibi­otics and some­times surgery to save their pa­tients.

Do we have a kind of moral sep­sis spread­ing through the body of this coun­try?

How can we not ac­knowl­edge this in­fec­tious ram­page of hate in which some­one brings an au­to­matic weapon into a house of wor­ship and uses it to mur­der innocent peo­ple gath­ered to­gether in prayer?

We’ve seen it be­fore, at an el­e­men­tary school, at high schools, in a church and in a night club. Now, a sy­n­a­gogue.

If we do not ap­ply a se­ri­ous treat­ment plan to fight this poi­son of hate, do we risk the severe con­se­quences of an in­fec­tion that would shut down or in­ca­pac­i­tate our cul­ture in Amer­ica?

The real ques­tion is whether the hate be­hind these hor­ren­dous crimes is treat­able?

I don’t know the an­swer to that ques­tion. But I am con­vinced we can­not give up on the mission to re­sist this kind of be­hav­ior.

The Jewish com­mu­nity in Amer­ica is cer­tainly in mourn­ing, and fear has spread, threat-

en­ing our con­fi­dence that Amer­ica is a safe place for Jewish peo­ple.

In a let­ter to the Jewish com­mu­nity of New­port, Rhode Is­land, in 1790, Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton wrote:

“May the chil­dren of the stock of Abra­ham who dwell in this land con­tinue to merit and en­joy the good will of the other in­hab­i­tants while ev­ery­one shall sit in safety un­der his own vine and fig tree and there should be none to make him afraid.”

The real in­fec­tion is not hate but fear, which can di­min­ish or weaken the moral and spir­i­tual im­mune sys­tem of Amer­i­can Jews. Fear is the most severe symp­tom of hate. It can dam­age any group of Amer­i­cans.

The Jewish peo­ple have been in Amer­ica and con­trib­uted to its great­ness since the be­gin­ning, when the first ship of Jewish refugees came to New Am­s­ter­dam from Re­cife, Brazil, in 1654.

Now, over 360 years later, delu­sional ex­trem­ists mur­der us at will and por­tray us as a threat to the na­tion.

But I take heart that many Amer­i­cans will stand up and con­demn these ac­tions.

On Sun­day our Hilton Head con­gre­ga­tion spon­sored a com­mu­nity assem­bly of sol­i­dar­ity and hope. Over 500 peo­ple from all over the Low­coun­try at­tended. Chris­tian and Is­lamic clergy came to stand with us against hate and fear.

Hope and steadfast com­mit­ment to pre­serv­ing the great­ness of the Amer­i­can ex­per­i­ment is still alive.

The pa­tient can be treated, and the moral sep­sis can be cured.

Com­mu­ni­ties must stand united and rec­og­nize that a crime of vi­o­lence against one group is a crime against all. We must conquer the fear and the ap­a­thy that too of­ten dulls our emo­tions and leads us to ig­nore such prob­lems be­cause they do not re­late to di­rectly to us.

That kind of at­ti­tude is the worst re­sponse and only en­cour- ages de­ranged peo­ple to act on their mur­der­ous im­pulses.

I worry about our youth and what they wit­ness from our po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship’s ap­par­ent re­sis­tance to treat this prob­lem. Pol­i­tics and poi­sonous rhetoric too of­ten be­comes a car­rier of the in­fec­tion, not a cure.

We must send the mes­sage to our youth that they are safe and that ab­hor­rent be­hav­ior like we wit­nessed in Pitts­burgh, Park­land, Sandy Hook and Las Ve­gas will never be tol­er­ated or coun­te­nanced.

When will we treat the fear? Is there an an­tibi­otic to treat hate, too?

The Jewish com­mu­nity in Amer­ica is hurt­ing.

But we are heart­ened to see the out­pour­ing of love and sup­port.

We, too, shall do our part to help oth­ers af­flicted with this se­ri­ous in­fec­tion.

We, too, will stand shoul­der to shoul­der with any group who is vic­tim­ized.

Our place will al­ways be stand­ing with the vic­tims of hate. That is how we bear wit­ness to in­jus­tice and evil and work for an Amer­ica that our prog­eny de­serves, one free of fear and hate.

Hope is still alive.

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