This country recently experienced a week filled with terrifying and heartbreaking violence. During the second to last week of October, an alt-right culprit delivered fifteen packages containing pipe bombs to critics of President Donald Trump including Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton and Maxine Waters, among others. Shortly thereafter, a white man from Kentucky killed two black people at a Kroger after unsuccessfully attempting to open fire on a predominantly black church.
The incident has been labeled a hate crime by multiple sources. That Saturday, an anti-semitic man killed 11 people attending weekly services in a Pittsburgh synagogue during a mass shooting attack.
Each of these abhorrent crimes has been caused by an atmosphere of toxic alt-right attitudes and rhetoric by our highest political officials. President Trump has accused one of the targets of the pipe bomb attacks, George Soros, of paying protestors to appear at his rallies, even though no evidence exists to prove this. Trump repeatedly brings up Hillary Clinton at his rallies, even though he won the election years ago, and Clinton has essentially secluded herself into retirement. He prompts his supporters to chant “Lock her up” even though multiple trials have taken place regarding her Benghazi scandal and the courts have not found her guilty.
The Kroger shooter had recently told his father that “Whites don’t kill whites,” referring to a common alt-right rhetoric that black people are killing each other in large cities, like Chicago, and that this is somehow an excuse to ignore racially-charged violence against the black population. It’s the same thought as when Dylan Roof shouted “Y’all are raping our white women. Y’all are taking over the world,” while opening fire on the predominately black Emanuel A.M.E. church in Charleston, SC. Both shooters targeted seniors, one of the most vulnerable segments of the population, and one of the segments of the population that engages in the least amount of crime.
Both shooters also ignored the fact that rates of violence are highest among “poor, urban whites” according to the U.S. Department of Justice publication on Household Poverty and Nonfatal Violent Victimization.
Not surprisingly, the Pittsburgh synagogue shooter told SWAT officers that he wanted “all Jews to die” and that “they are committing genocide to his people.” He enjoyed posting pictures of his gun collection to his gab. com account, a social media platform that caters to alt-right users. The culprit also used gab to accuse Jewish advocacy groups of helping to transport members of the highly politicized migrant caravans across the US border, calling the migrants “invaders” similarly to many alt-right groups.
There isn’t a clear-cut solution to solving this era of violence overnight. However, the best tool that we have at our fingertips is our vote.
Vote in the upcoming midterms for candidates who are committed to background checks and stricter firearms laws. Vote for candidates with a track record of helping empower minority communities. Vote for candidates who are willing to speak out against the alt-right and the Trump administration. Vote for candidates who are actually members of minority groups since they understand the problems these members of the population face better than anyone else.
If you haven’t registered in time to vote in the midterms, register now to vote in the next presidential election. Do it now. We can tell ourselves that our vote doesn’t matter, that the system is rigged, that only a full-on revolution will solve the problems at hand. But the truth is, this is what we have today. We might have a better way to solve the problems at hand tomorrow or years from now, but we, as a society, can’t afford to wait any longer for better solutions.
We must pledge to help our neighbors now. Their lives depend on it.