We at Tikkun and the Network of Spiritual Progressives are in deep mourning for the 49 Muslims killed and at least 20 seriously injured, in a hate-filled terror attack targeting two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch. The murderer, a few hours before the assault, posted a long statement filled with hatred toward Muslims and asylum seekers, using the familiar discourse of white nationalist extremists.
Many of our community will be attending various public activities to show our deep sorrow and to assure Muslims we will do everything we can to publicly oppose the teaching of hatred against Muslims just as we have stood against teaching of hatred against African Americans, Mexicans, Central and South Americans, or against asylum seekers and “undocumented’ immigrants to the U.S.
We in the Western world have great responsibility for what happened in New Zealand, and what happened to 11 Jews murdered in Pittsburgh, and what happened to African Americans killed in their churches—all by white nationalist extremists. While the racism and hatred of others has been a continual theme in Western countries, it greatly accelerated after Donald Trump demonized Muslims, Mexicans, undocumented immigrants, and those seeking asylum during and after his presidential campaign to channel the frustrations of many and to direct it on the powerless. Trump, with his violent actions and threatening words (even today repeating his lie that the U.S. is facing an “invasion” of tens of thousands of criminals, namely, the asylum seekers on the U.S. southern borders) is one of the major legitimizers of the growing hatred against so many innocent and decent people.
We must not let these murders be commemorated only by pious words of solidarity, but also should use this moment to develop a serious campaign against all the prevalent forms of hatred in most Western countries and insist that our media and all schools, from grade school through college, join us in systematically teaching about how hatred of the stranger/other are a huge danger to everyone in the world. Please ask your local school board, religious leaders, and elected officials to make this an important part of the required program of every student in the schools, colleges, and graduate programs that they help fund. And demand local and national media make this a major focus for their prime time programming throughout the coming years. This is a real national and international emergency.
---Rabbi Michael Lerner and Cat Zavis for Tikkun and the Network of Spiritual Progressives