That 11 Jews simply trying to worship can be murdered is a stark reminder how as Americans we have been led astray. As with Mother Emanuel in Charleston, South Carolina, innocent folks — our brothers and sisters — lose their lives simply because of who they are. In Kentucky, two African Americans lost their lives because a shooter could not enter a black church. Add on the pipe bomber and it is simply too much. Truly as humans we must take a moral inventory.
Particularly American liberals have been vilified by far right extremists. George Soros, progressive and Jewish, had a pipe bomb sent to him by a crazed neo-Fascist. Liberals who have been derided for every sin from naivete to being, in the words of extremists, snowflakes. Yet at their best they have shamed many who have done nothing in the face of bigotry and hate. It was Hubert Humphrey who ran anti-Semites out of Minneapolis city government and Eleanor Roosevelt who emphasized our better nature.
These ideas are not sentiments, they represent the best of human thought. When Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Chaney were murdered in Mississippi in 1964, they paid the ultimate price to help people who simply wanted freedom and dignity. Schwerner and Goodman were Jewish and took great risk in those days to help African Americans in the South. Selfless and heroic, they certainly were people of strength, certainly stronger than Right Wing radio hacks whose courage comes in sealed rooms. Chaney, as well, died for a cause, no weakling he, a man of courage, better than most of us.
What happened in Pittsburgh, Florida and Kentucky reminds us how far we must go to reclaim the great legacies of Franklin Roosevelt, John and Robert Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King, and Lyndon Johnson. But it also reminds us that the internecine warfare between progressives over the Vietnam War truly was tragic.
Many love to throw around the word “liberal” as if it is an epithet. For those “starry-eyed” advocates of peace, freedom, tolerance and reconciliation, you should only heap praise and love. Clumsy, you bet, politically savvy, impossible, but their vision represents the best of high-minded thought. Mock them if you will but never question their honor or ethics. The tragedy of the many murders of the righteous only reminds those who strove to demand human rights of the need to come together. But the problems of coalition building are indeed small in the face of hate. The mayor of Pittsburgh, Bill Peduto, reminded the good-hearted what we stand to lose if we do not come together.
And for those on the Right, who mock the memories of Heather Heyer or Viola Liuzzo, not to mention Schwerner, Goodman and Cheney, because of liberal imperfections, they should be reminded of the supreme sacrifice made. This is no longer a game where you denounce “fake news” or go after scapegoats. Tell that to those 11 beautiful souls who saw their lives taken because someone’s prejudice, trapped in a sick conflation, deemed they were not worthy of living. Like Charlottesville, they simply look the other way, pretending that their assaults on human dignity had nothing to do with these actions.