Record editorial: Ideals of bigots and white nationalists have no place in America | ParkRecord.com

Record editorial: Ideals of bigots and white nationalists have no place in America

Attendees of the vigil sing “This Land Is Your Land” to close out the event. (Tanzi Propst/Park Record)

They gathered Monday evening at Temple Har Shalom to mourn the deaths of 11 people in a Pittsburgh synagogue.

Many in attendance were members of the Park City Jewish community, shaken after what is believed to be the worst attack on Jews in American history. They were joined by Parkites of all stripes who shared their sorrow and who stood in solidarity with Jews here and around the nation.

It was a moving scene. But it was not surprising.

In Park City, we recognize that we are one community bound by shared values and ideals. And we firmly oppose violence — particularly the brand fueled by the kind of bigotry and hatred espoused by the shooter in Pittsburgh.

Unfortunately, such fanaticism is no longer resigned to the fringes in our nation. The shooting was just the latest manifestation of a disease that has stricken a country that once thought it had quelled the worst impulses of its past. A poisoning of our public discourse has given rise and a platform to people who hate others because of skin color and religion and sexuality and whose beliefs should disqualify them from having a place in society.

Fourteen months ago, Americans watched in horror as white nationalists marched on Charlottesville. But if we were naively surprised then that such a demonstration was possible in modern-day America, we no longer are. Days before the shooting at the synagogue, for instance, two black people were shot and killed in a grocery store in Kentucky. The alleged gunman had apparently first tried unsuccessfully to enter a predominately African-American church.

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This is the reality of America in 2018. The sad and sobering truth is a massacre like the one in Pittsburgh is possible anywhere in the country — even Park City.

What does that mean for those of us who abhor such vile beliefs and who stand with people who may be targeted by bigots based on their ethnicity or religion? Temple Har Shalom Rabbi David Levinsky put it eloquently before the crowd of hundreds Monday evening.

"We've come here today because hatred demands a response and hatred demands action, and we will take action," he said. "We will ensure that nothing like this ever happens in our community."

If we are to make that so, Parkites bear a large responsibility. We can fulfill it by calling out hatred and by uniting together, like we did Monday evening, in the face of it. But it also requires small, ordinary actions. We stand opposed to hatred when we support people in our community in need or approach those who are different than us with compassion. We stand opposed to it when we teach our children that we are strong because of our multiculturalism, not in spite of it.

And we stand opposed to it when we take the simple action every day of choosing love instead.