We in the PSL extend our deepest condolences and solidarity to the loved ones of the victims of the fascist, anti-Semitic massacre that took place in Pittsburgh today that took the lives of 11 worshipers at Tree of Life Synagogue. We will redouble our efforts to build unity and militant struggle against the fascist menace and all forms of bigotry. We join with millions of people across the country in expressing our outrage at this craven act of terrorism, which is a grave reminder of the importance of building the struggle against neo-Nazis, the Klan and all other expressions of fascism.
We are also disgusted by the response of leading capitalist politicians to the massacre. The first instinct of President Donald Trump, whose program of racism, immigrant bashing and xenophobia has provided a huge injection of energy to the forces espousing the far-right, anti-Semitic worldview the murderer subscribed to, was to shift the blame to the victims. Trump stated, “If they had some kind of protection inside the temple, maybe it could have been a very much different situation.” In a display of utter hypocrisy he has now announced that he will soon travel to Pittsburgh and is posturing as a champion of unity and an opponent of hate.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, a wealthy businessman who is a Democrat, also had a disgusting response to the massacre. His first official statement, issued just before noon, completely ignored the obvious political, terroristic nature of the murders. Wolf lamented, “We have been saying ‘this one is too many’ for far too long. Dangerous weapons are putting our citizens in harm’s way.” Nowhere in his statement was there mention of anti-Semitism, nothing about fascism, no reference to terrorism — just a generic response treating this like another apolitical mass shooting that has tragically become normalized in U.S. society. By 3:37 p.m. Wolf managed to express specific sympathy to “Pittsburgh Jewish communities”, and it wasn’t until 5:30 p.m., when the governor issued his third official statement, that he could bring himself to use the term “anti-Semitism”.
Robert Bowers, the fascist who carried out the attack, reportedly screamed “All Jews must die” as he shot into the crowd of worshipers. He was outspoken in his anti-Semitic views, including admiration for the holocaust, on the social media platform Gab, an alternative to Twitter popular with the fascist right. Bowers’ anti-Semitism was tied to his xenophobia — he stated his belief that Jewish charities like Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society that assist refugees were part of a plot to facilitate an “invasion” of the United States. His act of terrorism is a direct expression of the growth of Nazi-style politics in the United States, the same trend that carried out the car ramming attack in Charlottesville last year that killed Heather Heyer and wounded many others.
The inability of capitalist politicians from both parties to state this obvious truth highlights an important principle in the fight against fascism: only a progressive people’s movement, not the elites who rule this country, are capable of fighting back the far-right. Now is the time to escalate the struggle and build a united, multinational mass movement to defeat fascism.