“Screw the Optics:” Thoughts on the Pittsburgh Shooting

Last Saturday, watching the breaking news of the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue, I reached a point where I just had to cut it off, it was dragging on me, and with the “breaking news” essentially over, I decided I could wait for the details, without being under the cloud that the news brought with it.  Getting the details later hardly helped.  The shooter, Robert Bowers, 46, was simply a hate filled nut.  But then again, it wasn’t that simple at all, since his level of hate seems to be off the charts.  Posting on social media before the shooting, he wrote, “Screw the optics, I’m going in.”  Then apparently he did just that, seemingly getting up from the computer, grabbing his guns, and shooting up Saturday morning services, shouting, “All Jews must die!”

Eleven dead, six wounded.

I’ve written about the inanity of anti-Semitism before, again noting that of all of the various hates, bigotries, and prejudices of mankind, anti-Semitism seems to be the most obsessive.  Maybe that’s why I find it so difficult to understand.  Having few obsessions myself, it’s hard to put myself in the place of someone who can literally think of just one thing, all day, every day, and apply that obsession to every single situation.

Given the various websites and forums that I visit, I decided to visit one that I knew had its fair share of anti-Semites to gauge the reaction to the shooting.  What was I expecting?  Not what I got.  On one site (I won’t identify it) there is a regularly anti-Semitic poster who’s every post was, no matter the topic, was something-something Jews.  Given that, I had long ago learned to skip his posts because of his single minded obsession.  But this time…

Well he didn’t disappoint. His reaction (and I’m paraphrasing here) was, maybe this will wake up the normies as to why Jews are being targeted.  Maybe there’s a good reason…

That is so over the topic Bonkers that it might well put him in Bowers territory.  The idea that the shooting might be a good opening conversation starter for why Jews should be shot is in a territory of hatred all its own, and seems to be the exclusive domain of the anti-Semite.  Sure, there are plenty of people who hate other groups of people.  That fuels half the wars in undeveloped world, but even the Hutus had reasons (to them) to genocide the Tutsi; or the Serbs and the Croatians.  Maybe not good reasons and certainly not reasons that could justify what they did, but there were at least a track record of grievances.

What grievance did Bowers have against Jews?  I suspect we’ll learn a lot about his motivations in the coming weeks.  Clearly he has a story to tell, but I suspect that in the end, we’ll still not understand a thing as to what drove him to mass murder.

In human experience, anti-Semitism seems to be its own thing.  There isn’t a human bigotry, prejudice, or hatred that comes close.  It’s a bizarre mind virus having to do with a specific group of people.  And I suspect I’ll never have an understanding of it.


3 thoughts on ““Screw the Optics:” Thoughts on the Pittsburgh Shooting

  1. I can’t understand it either. My husband and I made the decision to watch “Holocaust” on TV with our then 8 and 9 year old children so we could explain to them what happened during WWII. They wanted to know why it happened and I had no answer then or now. We just have to make sure our children are aware of anti-Semitism so they recognise and reject it whenever they see it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As I mentioned on lion’s blog, my belief is antisemitism arose from an unfortunate confluence of events and misunderstandings once christianity was foisted onto a global stage. That being said, post internet era, a new strain of antisemitism has emerged that these crazy loner white guys eagerly latch onto. Maybe it gives them a sense of camaraderie or belonging to rant about jews all day. For some of them it may be the first social life they’ve ever enjoyed.

    This man was clearly troubled and lived in what appears to be total isolation. I don’t say this to excuse what he did, but I don’t see these occasionally violent loners as a critical threat to social order or the well being of jews. The real antisemitism we should worry about is what is aggressively brewed in the muslim world. These people despise jews par for the course and would absolutely love to see them all annihilated. To quote madam secretary (sorry!), we never reached armageddon with the soviets because in truth neither side ever wanted to push the button. But the islamists are absolutely ready to push that button.


    • I’m not sure the troubled loner type of antisemitism is new, it’s just that these troubled loners aren’t really alone anymore. They get together with like minded people on social media and begin feeding on their oddball ideas until it seems normal to them.

      Liked by 1 person

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