By Duke Staff
Unreal. Sickening. Saddening. Horrifying. These are the thoughts on so many minds as our whole city is still reeling from the horrific massacre that occurred on Saturday at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Squirrel Hill.
11 Jewish worshippers were gunned down, along with six wounded (four were police and SWAT officers), in their place of worship in what the Anti-Defamation League has described as “deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the history of the United States.” It is hard to believe that Squirrel Hill, one of the safest and most kind neighborhoods, would become the sight of a bloody hate crime.
If it can happen in a place like Squirrel Hill, is there anywhere that we can truly be safe?
When these events happen, you may feel powerless and lost. And we’re sure you’ve all heard that Mr. Rogers quote about the helpers by now. So, in these trying and tragic times, there’s one incredibly important thing you can do to spark change — vote.
Tuesday Nov. 6 is Election Day, as the nation heads to the polls to vote for governors, state legislature, U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives. It is imperative, in this election more than ever before in our lifetime, to do your civic duty and head to the polls next week.
We hate to sound like a broken record, as we’ve written about this issue tirelessly, but gun reform is of the utmost importance in making our communities safe. But there is unfortunately nothing truly substantial that any one person can do to change this. It has to be addressed by our representatives in Washington, D.C., many of whom are still reverting to the useless “thoughts and prayers” approach to gun violence, rather than the desperately needed policy and action.
According to the Gun Violence Archive, in 2018 there have been 294 mass shooting incidents in the U.S., including the Squirrel Hill tragedy on Saturday. There were 346 in 2017. The time for reform legislation is well past due, and voting is the best way to show political leaders that this problem can no longer be brushed aside with half-hearted press statements that accomplish nothing.
Before you go to the polls, get informed about the candidates running. Look into their campaign priorities and positions on issues that you care about, or go through their legislative voting record if they have one. This information is extremely accessible on candidates’ campaign sites, or websites like Ballotpedia or the Voter’s Self Defense Guide (votesmart.org). Go into the voting booth equipped with the knowledge to make the best decision for your county, your state, and your country.
We can do something to help end the hate, to help end the bloodshed. Consider voting for candidates who denounce anti-Semitic or other bigotry based-rhetoric that fuel partisan divides in our country, and who work to make our communities safer.