The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference. Because of indifference, one dies before one actually dies. To be in the window and watch people being sent to concentration camps or being attacked in the street and do nothing, that’s being dead. (Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor, U.S. News & World Report, Oct. 27, 1986)
Look to your left. Look to your right. Look behind you and in front of you.
Americans can no longer be indifferent to the dangerous world in which we live.
Everyone must remain vigilant, and doors to houses of worship, schools and businesses must remain locked.
Threats and hate speech made by individuals on social media, threatening phone calls and letters must immediately be taken seriously by those being attacked and by law enforcement.
The police, FBI and postal service employees are to be praised for responding to and bringing to a conclusion the horrific events that began Oct. 22 with improvised explosive devices being mailed to more than a dozen Democratic supporters, allegedly by Cesar Sayoc, and continued through Oct. 27 with the massacre of 11 worshippers at the Tree of Life Synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh, allegedly by Robert Bowers.
Notice, I did not say “successful conclusion.” The action by police was reactive, not proactive.
Eleven are dead and six were injured in the synagogue attack. There is nothing successful about that.
At any time in the delivery of what at least one member of law enforcement called chemically “unstable” pipe bombs, someone could have been killed or severely maimed.
The only way to prevent, or at least decrease, these horrific acts from happening again is for the “normal people” among us to be vigilant and to report anyone who may appear to be exhibiting behavior that is “off.”
Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon, in a Fox News online opinion piece after the synagogue massacre, wrote in part:
“ ... Finally, we must go on the offensive and begin monitoring social media sites to identify those most likely to commit terrorist attacks.
“Authorities say the man accused of being the Pittsburgh killer made his intentions clear through his social media presence; so, too, did the individual accused of sending 14 pipe bombs to prominent Americans and CNN through the mail.
“In Israel, we have successfully prevented attacks by monitoring people whose social media statements and affiliations raise red flags. We conduct an investigation and speak with the suspect’s family to further assess the likelihood for that individual to commit violence.
“This tactic has saved many lives.”
If this nation’s ally — and the only democracy in the Middle East, Israel — by monitoring social media for red flags and speaking with a suspect’s family, can prevent attacks, is there a legitimate reason why we here in America cannot be that proactive and also prevent the slaughter of innocents?
No one had better say to me the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution in the Bill of Rights guarantees a person’s right to free speech.
Yes, free speech, not hate speech via social media or otherwise.
The U.S. Constitution begins with the Preamble, which states:
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure [sic] domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence [sic], promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
Where is the domestic tranquility? How is this nation’s general welfare being assured when hate-filled individuals are allowed to express their sick thoughts and carry out their despicable actions?
Police officers, EMTs and first responders do not want to respond to massacres such as this nation has seen over the years. They do not want to see the evil that has been carried out. The horrors they see remain with them for the rest of their lives.
This nation’s leaders must change the laws so those who live on the edge of acceptable behavior are stopped in their tracks before they can carry out their devastating actions.
If legal changes are not made, if proactive investigations are not conducted and family members of vocal haters are not interviewed, we are, as Elie Wiesel said, watching people being attacked in the street and doing nothing.
We are dead as a civilized nation.