This week, on Wednesday, a white man shot and killed two black customers in a Kroger supermarket in Kentucky. He came to the supermarket shortly after he tried and failed to gain entrance to a nearby black Baptist church. He acted out of hate.
This week, another white man mailed bombs to prominent Democrats and to news organization who have been denounced repeatedly by Trump. The bombs were sent by a man who listened to Trump and who lived in a van plastered with Trump stickers and slogans. He acted out of hate.
Today, another white man, screaming his hatred of Jews and of immigrants and refugees, went into a synagogue in Pittsburgh and killed 11 Jewish people praying there, and wounded many more in the congregation and also four police officers who tried to stop him. He acted out of hate.
Tonight, I am heart sick because of these tragedies, because of the hate overwhelming the country.
That hate does not come “from all sides.” That hate is amplified and encouraged and spoken and tweeted daily by our president.
Tonight I remember the words of Lutheran Pastor Martin Niemoller
First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
My daughters are Jews, and we fear someone is coming for them. I have friends who are immigrants and refugees, and we fear someone is coming for them. I have friends who are people of color, who are gay and lesbian and transgender, and we fear someone is coming for them. We fear someone is coming for us.
Perhaps fear is the wrong word. We know someone is coming. We just do not know who or when.
Here’s a lesser-known part of Pastor Niemoller’s story. At first, when Hitler was coming to power in Germany, Pastor Niemoller supported him because Hitler was anti-communist. Then, as he saw the evils and the hatred that Hitler spread, he became a leader among clergy opposed to Hitler.
The first lesson I take from Pastor Niemoller is the obvious one: that we must stand up for everyone and must always stand against hate.
A second lesson I take is this: that people who once supported Trump, the loudest voice of hate in this country today, can change and oppose his hateful speech and actions now.
Today and every day, I oppose that hate. Today and tomorrow and every day, I stand in solidarity with the people who are the immediate targets of that hate: with people of color, with immigrants and refugees, with lesbian and gay and transgender and bisexual people, with Jews and Muslims, with socialists and communists and Democrats and journalists.
At noon on Sunday, I will stand on Lake Street, with transgender people and allies, in an action to “show to the world our power as fellow human beings and to support and show love for each other in a time where our government seems to be discarding us.” Standing on Lake Street for an hour is a very small thing, but it is something.
Can you find something to do, too? Can you find a small action to take? Even listening to the voices of people who are suffering under these attacks is something. Even reading the news instead of turning away is something. Voting against haters is something.
Let me say this once again: the hate that is preached from the bully pulpit of the presidency is affecting lives right now, today. Please do something.