11 are dead in the most deadly anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history

Remember how, not so long ago, we were talking about how the Republicans, in a desperate attempt to remain in power and avoid being held responsible for their actions, had made a conscious decision to spread a false story about a bloodthirsty gang of would-be terrorists, funded by “globalists” (code word for Jews), making their way for our southern border? Well, yesterday morning, we saw how that decision on the part of Trump and the Republicans played out in the real world, when a 46 year old white supremacist by the name of Robert Bowers walked into a Pittsburgh synagogue and gunned down 11 people.

Before murdering these innocent people, Bowers posted the following to Gab.com, a social media platform popular among right wing extremists. “HIAS likes to bring invaders in that kill our people,” Bowers said. “I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.” [HIAS is a global Jewish nonprofit that, for 130 years, has sought to protect refugees, and, should you wish, you can donate to them here. If you’re so inclined, you can also give to the Tree of Life Synagogue, where these 11 people were murdered.]

So, after declaring, “I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered,” this right-wing extremist took his assault weapon into the Tree of Life synagogue and slaughtered 11 innocent people… 11 people, who, you can be certain, had nothing whatsoever to do with this imagined threat massing along our border with Mexico.

Just to recap, this so-called “caravan” of people fleeing the violence and poverty of South America is still roughly 1,000 miles away, which means that they’d arrive at our border in approximately two months time, given that they’re traveling on foot. And, you can be sure that not all of the approximately 5,000 people in this group will reach our border. As you may recall, a similar, albeit smaller, group traveled by foot from South America this past April, and only about 350 individuals made it so far as the U.S. border, where they applied for asylum… So, when you hear that Donald Trump has moved 800 active-duty troops to the border to confront these people, it’s just pre-election theater. Sadly, though, as we saw yesterday morning, some people actually believe it.

Here, to give you a sense of just how amped-up the fear mongering on the right has gotten, is four minutes of video from Fox News.

Bowers, it would seem, was obsessed with this caravan… a caravan which he apparently felt certain was being funded and directed by George Soros and other “globalist” Jews. [Or, as Henry Ford might have referred to them, “The International Jew.”] And, this, I should add, is a conspiracy theory that one doesn’t have to be on Gab.com to know about. Following is a clip from Fox News, in which Lou Dobbs discusses the “Soros-occupied State Department,” and the role of the Jews in the directing of this caravan, with Chris Farrell, the head of the far-right group Judicial Watch. [The idea that the Jews are secretly running our government — ZOG, or “Zionist Occupied Government” — is apparently a popular talking point among neo-Nazis.]

And this is something that Bowers, it would seem, swallowed hook, line and sinker, going so far as to repeatedly share still images like the following from Fox News, showing a truck with a Jewish star painted on its door assisting migrants.

I’m sure some will argue, yet again, that Trump and the Republicans bear no responsibility. They’ll point out, I’m sure, that Bowers, in recent social media post, criticized Donald Trump for claiming to be a “nationalist”, while actually being a “globalist.” Clearly, though, Bowers bought the narrative that Donald Trump and members of his party put out pertaining to the so-called caravan. I think that’s undeniable. Sure, he may have wanted Trump to embrace the tenants of white nationalism more fervently, especially as they relate to the threat posed by globalist Jews, but I don’t think there’s any case to be made that they aren’t completely aligned when it comes to the threat posed by this group of George Soros-funded terrorists coming to rape and kill our loved ones. You could argue that Trump doesn’t actually believe any of it, but that doesn’t change the fact that he and his people put forward an outlandish conspiracy theory in which powerful Jews were sending an invasion force into America, and that conspiracy theory led to the murder of 11 U.S. citizens.

For what it’s worth, Donald Trump, true to form, is still refusing to accept even a hint of responsibility for his role in any of this. Just a few minutes ago, he doubled down on his earlier claim that all of this violence is due to the lying media… or, as Hitler would have called them, the “Lügenpresse“.

With all of that said, I’d like to once again remind you that we have an opportunity to change things in about one week’s time, when we go to the polls. Please, if you haven’t done so already, find your polling place, read your sample ballot, make your voting plan, and call every last one of your friends. The future of our democracy, if not humanity itself, depends on it.

correction: This post originally identified one of the victims of this attack, the 97 year old Rose Mallinger, as a holocaust survivor. It turns out, however, that this was reported incorrectly in the press. As someone just pointed out to me, while 7 of the 11 victims were alive during the holocaust, none were actively survivors. One of the congregants who was sent to Bergen-Belsen at age 8, however, was on her way into the building when the attack took place.

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  1. Anonymous
    Posted October 28, 2018 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

    Did you read the editorial my former Republican Max Boot today? Here’s some of what he had to say:

    The fault does not lie, as President Trump insists, with those in the media (e.g., “lowly rated CNN”) who have the temerity to question and criticize him. It is the job of the press to hold those in power to account, and the press has recently done a magnificent job of discharging its constitutional responsibility. Has the media gotten everything right? Of course not. But it has gotten a lot more right than a president who lies with impunity and abandon.

    Nor does the fault lie, as Trump’s supposedly reasonable supporters insist, with “both sides.” For example, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), tweeted: “Why is it so hard to accept that a clearly deranged man carried out deranged acts? The ‘false flag’ conspiracy theories on one side & the ‘it’s Trump’s fault’ on the other shows how unhinged politics has become. This isn’t incivility. It’s a society that has lost common sense.”

    I, too, have criticized the incivility of Democrats. Hounding officials in restaurants is a mistake. Comparing Trump to Hitler is wrong. But those errors cannot be spoken of in the same breath with terrible crimes such as sending pipe bombs or opening fire in a synagogue.

    To be clear, the investigation into Saturday’s attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh is only just beginning, and there is more to learn about Sayoc’s apparent infatuation with Trump. But it also should be clear to all that holding the president of the United States to account for his hateful rhetoric is not the same thing as subscribing to lunatic “false flag” conspiracy theories that ricochet around the right-wing world. In their eagerness to protect their leader, Republicans are guilty of the very sin they have spent years decrying — false moral equivalence.

    Extremism has been present in America for a long time. But Trump is applying a match to the kindling.

    Trump calls Democrats “evil” and “crazy.” He accuses them of being “treasonous” and “un-American.” He claims they are in league with MS-13 gang members. He says they are trying to open our borders to criminals and to turn America into Venezuela — a bankrupt socialist dictatorship. He denounces the media as “the enemy of the people.” He applauds a congressman who assaulted a reporter and calls for his political opponent to be locked up. He singles out minorities such as Waters for opprobrium, and he promotes anti-Semitic conspiracy theories that hold George Soros responsible for everything from the Central American caravan to protests against Brett M. Kavanaugh.

    When Trump talks about “globalists,” the far right hears “Jews.” When Trump says there were “fine people” on both sides in Charlottesville, the far right hears official approval. There is so much anti-Semitic filth online now. I see it every day on Twitter and in my email inbox. Normally I tune it out. Just background noise. But others are listening.

    And Trump continues his incendiary rhetoric even after the tragic consequences have become clear. On Friday, after a pro forma denunciation of political violence, Trump laughed as a group of black conservatives at the White House chanted “Fake News!” He echoed their chants of “Lock him up!” about Soros. Hours later, he presided over a rally in Charlotte, where supporters chanted “CNN sucks.” Asked by reporters whether he would tone down his hateful rhetoric, he defiantly replied, “I could really tone it up.” Asked if he bore any responsibility for what is happening, he answered, “There’s no blame. There’s no anything.”

    In times of crisis, we look for the president to bind our wounds, to overcome partisanship, to unite the country. Trump is doing the opposite. He is deliberately exacerbating our divisions for partisan gain. He is risking widespread political violence so that he and his Republican supporters can hold on to office.

    I am so sad. I am so heartbroken that our president is acting this way.

  2. Sarah Sanders
    Posted October 29, 2018 at 6:27 am | Permalink

    Is there any tragedy the Washington Post won’t exploit to attack President @realDonaldTrump? The evil act of anti-Semitism in Pittsburg was committed by a coward who hated President Trump because @POTUS is such an unapologetic defender of the Jewish community and state of Israel.

  3. Boycott Fox News
    Posted October 29, 2018 at 6:31 am | Permalink

    This is why we must boycott Fox News.


  4. wobblie
    Posted October 29, 2018 at 6:53 am | Permalink

    An article by Juan Cole on this very subject.

  5. M
    Posted October 29, 2018 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    It should be noted that, while Donald Trump has refused to take action, Campbell Soup has. In the wake of this mass murder, they fired Kelly Johnston, the company’s vice president of government affairs, who tweeted this past Monday that George Soros’s Open Society Foundations arranged for “troop carriers” and “rail cars” to support the caravan. #SoupNazi

    If only Fox News and the Trump administration could be held to the same high standard as Campbell Soup.


  6. anonymous
    Posted October 29, 2018 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    Trump also blamed the synagogue, saying that they should have had armed security.

  7. Frosted Flakes
    Posted October 29, 2018 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    FWIW I did read that Fox issued a statement that condemned the “Soros controlled State department” comment by the Lou Dobbs guest.

  8. Aaron Rupar ‏by proxy
    Posted October 29, 2018 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    @foxandfriends’ @SteveDoocy claims Pittsburgh shooter couldn’t have been motivated by Trump’s hateful rhetoric because “he never owned a MAGA hat.”

    And despite fact shooter was motivated by conspiracy pushed by Trump, @AinsleyEarhardt says “this guy was not a Trump supporter.”


  9. Super Sad
    Posted October 29, 2018 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    FF, they issued that after the killings, not before. That episode had already aired twice by the time they pulled it.

    Also, it should be noted that three of the 11 people who were killed on Saturday were trained police officers, so when Trump says that this mass murder could have been avoided if only the Tree of Life had armed security guards, it’s bullshit.

  10. wobblie
    Posted October 29, 2018 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    While Trump and his minions continue to stoke fear and hate it is important to know why they would rather talk about “migrants” (they are in fact refugees) and the evil Democrats. Two years into his term and after his signature tax cuts, most Americans continue to get poorer.

    “The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) has issued the following news release today:
    Personal income increased $35.7 billion (0.2 percent) in September according to estimates released today by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Disposable personal income (DPI) increased $29.1 billion (0.2 percent) and personal consumption expenditures (PCE) increased $53.0 billion (0.4 percent). ”

    In order to continue to pay the bills, personal consumption expenditures continued to increase (up .4 of a percent in one month) more rapidly than folks personal income which only increased by .2 % in same month. Folks are borrowing more money to pay the bills. Annualized, that is a decrease in personal income of over 2.5%. Since most folks are using there credit cards to make up the short fall in income with average interest rates between
    10% (those with the best credit scores) to upwards of 30% for those with poor credit scores. According to the US census the average American household is carrying $130,000 + of debt. Given a modest interest rate of say 7% that is nearly $10,000 just in interest payments. That is 20% of the average income.

    This is clearly unsustainable–Thus the need to scape goat the “others”. Classic misdirection strategy.

  11. Frosted Flakes
    Posted October 29, 2018 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    All good points, supersad. I did preface my info with “fwiw”.

  12. Aaron Rupar ‏by proxy
    Posted October 29, 2018 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    Conway tries to frame Pittsburgh shooting as really being about “anti-religiosity” writ large.

    “The anti-religiosity in this country that is somehow in vogue… making fun of people who express religion, the late night comedians,.. It’s always anti-religious.”


  13. wobblie
    Posted October 29, 2018 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    Earlier today, more misdirection by Trump,
    “Many Gang Members and some very bad people are mixed into the Caravan heading to our Southern Border. Please go back, you will not be admitted into the United States unless you go through the legal process. This is an invasion of our Country and our Military is waiting for you!”

    The man is such a hate filled bigot that he fails to know/understand/care that showing up at our borders and requesting asylum as a political refugee is perfectly legal. Over 40,000 such refugees were admitted to the country last year. Nothing new —but quick look over there its a brown person coming to steal and rape.

  14. Meta
    Posted October 29, 2018 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    Washington Post: “How the Trumps and conservative media helped mainstream a conspiracy theory now tied to tragedy”

    The Post’s Joel Achenbach has a big new story on how the Soros/caravan conspiracy theory pulls off the trifecta of weaving together “anti-Semitism, fear of immigrants and the specter of powerful foreign agents controlling major world events in pursuit of a hidden agenda.”

    What’s as notable is how concern about promoting theories that may touch on those things is no longer so taboo. The idea that Soros, a wealthy liberal Jewish donor, was funding the caravan in fact dates to the last time a caravan was headed to the U.S.-Mexico border in April. But while it had a difficult time getting beyond the pages of Infowars back then, this time it had some Republican congressmen, cable-news talkers and a president’s son to push it.

    The theory began proliferating in mid-October in the form of questions about who was funding the latest caravan — without invoking Soros specifically.

    “I want to talk a little bit about who is funding the caravan,” Fox News’s Laura Ingraham said Oct. 16. She noted that the Honduran “foreign ministry spokesman cited political sectors as culpable — unidentified political influences. Somebody is funding these caravans.”

    On Oct. 17, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) — a Trump ally with a fondness for deep-state conspiracy theories — fingered possible culprits that included Soros.

    “BREAKING: Footage in Honduras giving cash 2 women & children 2 join the caravan & storm the US border @ election time,” Gaetz tweeted. “Soros? US-backed NGOs? Time to investigate the source!”

    President Trump soon tweeted the accompanying video (which was actually of Guatemala) without Gaetz’s Soros reference, and it has now been viewed more than 2 million times. “Can you believe this, and what Democrats are allowing to be done to our Country?” Trump said.

    [embedded video]

    Gaetz’s tweet itself got a “like” from Donald Trump Jr.

    [embedded video]

    On Oct. 18, Trump Jr. liked a tweet from conservative actor James Woods making an even bolder claim: That the caravan was an “election trick” that amounted to “Soros nonsense.”

    [embedded post]

    Gaetz appeared on Fox Business’s “Kennedy” that day, where the host noted he was getting “pushback” for the tweet and asked him about it. The host provided no pushback of her own, though, when Gaetz failed to provide any real evidence.

    [embed transcript]

    By Oct. 19, the theory became even bolder. NRATV correspondent Chuck Holton declared that “the real story here is the nexus we’re finding between left-wing groups from the United States, Soros-funded groups in Latin America and the Venezuelan government.” He added, “It’s telling that a bevy of left-wing groups are partnering with a Hungarian-born billionaire” — Soros — “and the Venezuelan government to try to influence the 2018 midterms by sending Honduran migrants north in the thousands.”

    That same day, Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo brought up the theory of her own volition — and was actually begged off by her guest, Axios Editor in Chief Nick Johnston, who rightly noted it was a baseless “conspiracy theory”:

    [embed transcript]

    Gaetz was on Martha MacCallum’s Fox News show that night where she, to her credit, pressed him. “That was not accurate, correct?” she asked of his tweet. She noted that those handing out the small sums of money were likely “local merchants or organized crime” trying to ingratiate themselves rather than people funded by Soros. Gaetz didn’t back off his theory, though, and it was allowed to end as an agree-to-disagree. MacCallum even asked Gaetz to speculate as to whether there was “any connection whatsoever to our impending midterm election.”

    By Oct. 22, with the theory raging on social media and becoming a focus of Infowars, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.) appeared on Fox News and started talking about the funding of the caravan. The host tried to move the interview along, but Gohmert returned to it later. “I can’t help but think the Democrats — perhaps Soros — may be funding this, thinking it’s going to help them,” he said.

    Read more:

  15. iRobert
    Posted October 29, 2018 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    Lunatics and maniacs have never been so free to express themselves and act on their insane notions, Mark. For them, America has been made great again.

  16. EOS
    Posted October 29, 2018 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    We’ve seen this too many times to be surprised. It doesn’t matter whether the lunatic is a right wing nut or a left wing nut – it’s all Trump’s fault. He should be playing nice even when 95% of the media stories portray him in a negative light. Even when the antifa is provided financial resources to riot in the street and destroy storefronts. Even when the NYT publishes fictional accounts of his assasination. Even when Hollywood stars hold up bloodied representations of his severed head. Even when persons are caught in deliberate lies concerning his nominee to the court and not held accountable. No matter what – its all his fault. And many actually believe it.

    But not all. There’s still a few who see through the facade.

  17. Sad
    Posted October 29, 2018 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    And thanks to MM.com we’ve all had via the comments section here, a confessional of the thought process of the Trump supporters. HW, EOS, FF , the full spectrum carefully explaining to us what the world has become. Sigh.

    After learning so much about the true extent of the Jewish community in America’s long standing and substantial assistance to groups that help refugees and immigrants and Trumps denouncement of the Caravan. It’s his fault. It’s all his fault.

    Actually FF i’m Going to go on vacation. I don’t think I can even be in s virtual space with you.

    I was going to be super sad, but I see somebody else already is.

  18. John Brown
    Posted October 29, 2018 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

    On the lunatic theme, it’s always worth a reminder that the fascist style of government is inherently cruel and as such attracts an even higher than usual concentration of sociopaths and psychopaths to all levels of power.

    So get out and canvass, call, network to get out the vote or we’ll be up to our eyeballs in Bannons, Stephen Millers, and HWs.

  19. John Brown
    Posted October 29, 2018 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

    Oh, and the NRA and Ted Nugent have really been whipping up the Jew hate to the gun nuts. Just saying..


  20. stolen from social media
    Posted October 29, 2018 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

    Lou Dobbs’ guest blames “the continued invasion of this country” by immigrants for “diseases spreading across the country that are causing polio-like paralysis of our children”


  21. BrianB
    Posted October 30, 2018 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    Snopes says she wasn’t a hollocost survivor after all, not that it lessens the tragedy, but facts still matter, I think.

  22. Trump is still at it
    Posted October 31, 2018 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    And yet Trump continues to lie about the caravan.

    “The Caravans are made up of some very tough fighters and people. Fought back hard and viciously against Mexico at Northern Border before breaking through. Mexican soldiers hurt, were unable, or unwilling to stop Caravan. Should stop them before they reach our Border, but won’t!”

  23. Anonymous
    Posted October 31, 2018 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    Morlocks and Eloi.

2 Trackbacks

  1. By The October surprise that wasn’t on October 30, 2018 at 9:31 pm

    […] momentum slowing for Republican candidates after the racist killings in Louisville, the anti-Semitic mass murder in Pittsburgh, and the attempted assassination of several prominent Democrats by a Trump supporter, the leaders […]

  2. […] been forced to process as informed citizens has been absolutely overwhelming. There have been multiple shootings by white supremacists, assassination attempts against several Democratic leaders, and false accusations intended to kill […]

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