Squirrel Hill, PA

It is nearly a year since I have felt I could write again about terrorist attacks. The Squirrel Hill Massacre is an event that I cannot ignore in this blog. For any who for some reason do not know about this terror attack on US soil, know this: An American terrorist stormed a Jewish synagogue and executed 11 worshiping Jews in the midst of a naming ceremony. Police arrested the perpetrator who shouted words to the effect that all Jews must die. His crime has been termed Hate Crime by authorities. That is appropriate designation but I believe there is much more than hate crime in this event. More of my opinion about that comes below.

Before I continue with my comments about the Squirrel Hill murders, let me put some of my cards face up on the table. I am a former journalist and retired Associate Professor of Broadcasting and Mass Media. I am a follower of Christ. I am neither Republican nor Democrat. I am a Canadian citizen. I am not permitted by law to vote. Clearly these cards indicate somewhat the nature of any ideals and opinions which I am likely to hold. I make no apology for such. Any of you who might wish to disagree are invited to do so as your right.

I support the idea of a unified democratic government process. I believe that it is of the utmost importance that all who are eligible to vote must get out and do so in these mid term elections. I believe that is particularly important that you vote for candidates who honestly will try to achieve unity regardless of their political persuasion.

Now back to specific comments on this most recent travesty and symbolic beating up of the American public. The Squirrel Hill community, according to the 2010 census, is about 40% Jewish. It is described as a unique community in America because of its stability attributed in large part to its Jewish residents. In short I understand that this community has represented everything that is good about citizenship.

On October 27, 2018 that sense of Jewish stability and influence was shattered when  Robert Bowers, 46, of Baldwin Borough, entered the Tree of Life congregation’s synagogue and opened fire. As already noted, 11 individuals were killed and an addition 6 were wounded. Authorities have so far charged Bowers with 29 separate crimes. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette  reports that “They include 11 counts of obstruction of exercise of religious beliefs resulting in death; 11 counts of use of a firearm to commit murder during a crime of violence; four counts of obstruction of exercise of religious beliefs resulting in bodily injury to a public safety officer and three counts of use and discharge of a firearm during a crime of violence.”

It is my opinion that the violence committed by Bowers constitutes an act of Terrorism by Bowers against ordinary citizens of the United States of America. I agree that his motivation was hatred toward a religious community in America. It is known that Bowers posted virulent anti-Semitic posts on social media. The Anti-Defamation League has defined the mass shooting as the deadliest attack on the Jewish community on the history of the USA.

The President, #45, has tweeted his adverse opinion that such violence has no place in American life and that anti-antisemitism is not to be tolerated.  But I am forced to observe that #45 does not seem to mind making anti-religious comments with regard to Muslims in the world, when he accuses them broadly of being terrorists out to destroy America. Recently, for example in comments about the  convoy of would be immigrants approaching the southern border with Mexico, #45 charged that the convoy contained terrorists and people of middle eastern descent. His comments of this kind frequently conflate terrorism with people of the Islamic faith. Such comments cannot be understood as unifying by any stretch of the imagination.

As I think about the nature of this kind of attack on American soil, I cannot ignore what seems to be an increasingly significant White Supremacist vitriol in public life here. Some of this seems to be encouraged by remarks made in recent rallies held by #45 as he boldly tries to invigorate his supporters. It seems clear to me that many of those same supporters hold dearly to supremacist views. Perhaps one of the most egregious examples is the case of Cesar Sayoc Jr. charged with 13 counts of sending pipe bombs to leaders in the Democratic party as well as to CNN.

That Sayoc seems to be motivated by supremacist ideology, may be seen in images of his Dodge van adorned with right wing propaganda along with images showing support of #45. The Democratic targets of Sayoc’s pipe bomb packages have been frequently critical of #45 who in turn has aimed his own invective against them in twitters and at rallies. For example, consider #45’s remarks during his state of the union address earlier this year when he decided it would be appropriate to label Democrats as treasonous because of their stone faced attitude during that address.

The question of white supremacist views as related to #45 has yet to be appropriately addressed in this post. I invite you to consider this idea as expressed this summer in an editorial published by The Atlantic: “The most enduring scandal in and around the White House might not be corruption, but rather the administration’s constant embrace of bigotry from white-supremacist and far-right groups.”  Now #45 would very likely point to this as evidence that the media is indeed the enemy of the people as he has exclaimed often since becoming president.  But recall #45s reaction to claims that in South Africa a wholesale killing of white farmers was taking place, a condition shown to be a false fact. Here again from The Atlantic’s editorial of August 23, 2018:

“Trump thundered in a tweet after the show. “South African Government is now seizing land from white farmers.”

This is perhaps Trump’s most explicit appropriation of a white-nationalist trope yet. It’s unclear whether he really appreciates what he’s saying, or whether he has any understanding of South African politics beyond what he watched on television. But what is clear is that the Trump administration and its wing of the Republican Party are the chief launderers of white-supremacist and white-nationalist ideas in America today. Even with multiple investigations into Trumpworld currently under way, it’s worth considering whether the real lasting scandal from this administration—one that will truly shape and corrupt democracy for decades to come—might just be the elevation of plain old racism.”

This sort of discussion by #45 is exactly the sort of damaging outcry in the American political scene today in my opinion. It is damaging simply because it is divisive. I believe that America is seen to be increasingly unstable by important world partners, and as a logical target for increasing that instability by certain world powers desiring to topple America’s leadership in the world.

As I conclude this post I believe that it is absolutely important to vote for candidates who will honestly try to return to stability and unity and especially bi-partisan commitment to government by the people for the people.

Now, just as I have in the past, I make a few remarks on the progress of my writing of my second novel “A Prairie Vendetta”. As I have previously described the theme as home-grown terrorism in a setting within the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. Now that Summer has turned to Fall and rapidly approaches the Winter season, it is my plan to focus more thoroughly on the writing task now that outside chores and work on my garaged antique auto are necessarily put aside due to the cold. I think I am about half way to the conclusion of the book and certainly at a turning point as my band of disillusioned Metis youth are led down a dangerous path by a murderous zeolot. Will they be able to carry out kidnapping and likely murder or will they be rescued by an undercover member of Sean-Guy’s anti-terrorism team from the Canadian Anti-terrorism Service? Will a young female lawyer who recently discovered her own Metis heritage, acting as a newly appointed Crown Counsel successfully argue a prosecution case against the leader of the local terrorist band? Stay tuned. I promise to keep you updated.

Regards. Ron Stotyn, PhD.ca-flag SmallFront-Cover poppy-flowers-320x120

Good Reading. Thanks for your support.




I am a retired college professor and former broadcast journalist. I live in Vermont with my wife. I write near the shores of Lake Champlain. As an author I cast characters in the task of anti-terrorism efforts. The setting for my stories is Canada. My first novel is The Chechen's Revenge, a story of Sean-Guy O'Dwyer-Lariviere and his team of Canadian Anti-terrorism Service agents on the trail of a rebel Chechen, determined to create havoc and death on Toronto's Go Train system. The Chechen's Revenge is now in print and can be ordered online at https://mkt.com/northof49publishing.

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