As a Jew, I am painfully aware of the persecution my people have endured for at least two millenia, perhaps longer. It seems we have been singled out throughout history.
The periods of tolerance and acceptance our ancestors have enjoyed all too often gave way to eras of renewed discrimination and increased marginalization. While Jew-hatred hss become commonplace in the Muslim world today, our people flourished in Moorish Spain and played a prominent role in the intellectual and cultural life of Baghdad during and after the turn of the Second Millennium (when that city served the function Athens did in the Classical Era). We would be welcomed into Poland in one era, to be persecuted in another, with the nation in yet another serving as the locale where millions of our fellows would be murdered.
And while anti-Semitism is on the rise worldwide, America still seems a safe haven where only a few isolated quacks and extremists wish to do us harm. Yes, there are growing signs of anti-Semitic sentiment in certain segments of the political left, even the gay left, but it has not developed into any kind of organized movement. So, when we learn of the vile attitudes of the man* who shot up the Holocaust Museum yesterday, murdering security guard Stephen Tyrone Johns, we hope and pray that he was operated on his own, now on a mission from a growing cadre of neo-Nazis.
So, amidst the barbarity of his actions, we take some comfort, small though it may be, in learning that he was not indeed part of a growing movement. He acted on his own. Feeling powerless, he blamed the people whom all too many have, throughout the centuries, blamed for all manner of the world’s ills and their personal misfortunes. He targeted an institution commemorating the worst atrocity ever committed against us, a people used to such atrocities, but never previously of such a scale.
it is unfortunate that all too many, mostly on the left but some on the right, wish to politicize this terrible act by treating their political adversaries as the murderers’ ideological forebears treated the Jews. This man did not read conservative blogs, was not familiar with conservative ideas (and actually attacked prominent Republicans and at least one media figure considered to be conservative) nor did he read left-wing blogs, not even those which occasionally featured posts with anti-Semitic thought and/or references.
He is not a man of the right. Or of the left. Those who have taken the time to study the man and his writings have not unearthed any evidence linking him to any mainstream political movement nor even to any extremist group. He acted on his own. We should not let our own political prejudices, our own eagerness to score points against the “other side” blind us to those facts.
It is a sad sign of our times that all too many would politicize this horrific act when it should instead unite us in condemnation of the wicked deed and in sympathy for the family of Officer Stephen Tyrone Johns, a man who gave his life doing what he had been doing for the past six years, protecting others and securing a shrine to millions murdered by people espousing the hateful ideology which motivated the man who murdered him.
*I do not wish to dignify him by calling him by his name.
UPDATE: Over at Commentary’s blog Contentions, J.D. Thayer offers a similar thesis, finding a consistency between this and the two previous shootings: “But the single unifying element of the three is that they all [i.e., each killer] apparently acted alone.” Read the whole thing!