Tragedy in Pittsburgh

The Review has always been a heavily Jewish publication. Our current staff is heavily Jewish, and a disproportionate number of our Editor-in-Chiefs have been Jewish. It has been a point of pride for me personally that people in this publication largely treat people as individuals rather than as representatives of larger groups.
I think it is partly for this reason that the recent act of evil – the murder of eleven innocent Jews in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – has affected so many of our contributors as much as it has. Such an act of wicked anti-Semitism is difficult to comprehend for many of us who grew up in a fundamentally tolerant nation. This is even more the case since America has framed itself as the opposite of Nazi Germany. World War II helped us become the Achilles to their Hector, the Caesar to their Vercingetorix. Even in this deeply divided time, one thing most Americans can agree upon is that we defeated true evil when we destroyed Nazi Germany and cut-short the Holocaust. The liberation of the concentration camps in Europe is along-side the ending of slavery as one of the greatest accomplishments of our short national history. We, as a nation, have defined ourselves by this victory and today we celebrate tolerance, freedom, and individual liberty, values truly the opposite of Nazi Germany. That definition is only the ideal however, and ideals are never accurate. Even in the United States that defined itself as the complete opposite of Nazi Germany, anti-Semitism is too common.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to those who were despicably murdered and to their families. Were there words to describe all of the feelings caused by the evil man who did this, they would be used here. There are none. We also hope and pray against hope that nothing like this will happen again. Evil men will always exist however, and not all will be stopped. Thus we know that our hope will probably never be a reality.
That is the Review’s response to the tragedy in Pittsburgh. I wish that could be the end of this article, but unfortunately it is the Review’s responsibility to accurately report on the mishaps of Dartmouth and the mistakes of its Administration.
President Phil Hanlon also sent a response to the national tragedy out to the whole student body. This was very appropriate as during times of distress it is the responsibility of our leaders to help bring us together to deal with the tragedy in a unified, dignified, and empathetic manner. Much of the email was excellent. Hanlon is right that political divisions need to be dealt with in the right way, by pursuing open dialogue and “careful listening and understanding across difference.” “Bigotry and hatred” do not have a place in our society. It is deeply wrong, and unamerican, that people across the country have been targeted with violence for their religious or political views.
Despite these great parts to his email, Hanlon forgot something important. His message never mentioned the words “Jew,” “anti-Semitism,” or “murder.” Instead his message was plagued by generalized statements about hatred. Rather than being addressed to the tragedy in Pittsburgh, or to the thankfully failed bombings across the country, Hanlon made the subject of his email “Recent National Events.” While recent national events are deeply troubling, and the level of political division is worrisome, those are not what this editorial is about or what Hanlon’s email should have been about. Hanlon should have focused on the despicable, anti-Semitic, murder of eleven Jews in a Pittsburgh synagogue at the hands of a white supremacist. Al Nur, the Muslim student group, and several other student organizations wrote incredible emails that did do this explicitly and well, and demonstrated exactly how such addresses to campus should be structured. In the end however, most of Hanlon’s email to campus put things in the right direction and hopefully in the wake of this tragedy campus can be unified in opposition to such evil acts as those that were done in Pittsburgh to the members of the Tree of Life Synagogue.