Once again, hate has found its way into our backyard.
Just before 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 27, while many San Diego State students were studying, or working, or hanging out with friends, or perhaps still sleeping, a gunman walked into a Poway synagogue and shot four people.
His actions left 60-year-old Lori Kaye Gilbert dead and injured three others, including an 8-year-old girl, an Israeli military veteran and the synagogue’s rabbi.
It’s by mere coincidence that the death toll wasn’t higher — the killer’s gun happened to jam and he ran off, perhaps saving the lives of hundreds of congregants.
In a terrifyingly racist “open letter,” the suspected shooter — who we will not name; he has already gained more notoriety than he deserves — describes his hatred for Jewish people. He walked into Chabad of Poway with the intention of killing worshippers for no reason other than that they are Jewish.
Concerned as some are about the threats immigrants and outsiders supposedly pose to our country, the suspected shooter is fully homegrown. The 19-year-old attended high school just 20 minutes up the road from SDSU. There are likely at least a few SDSU students who shared classes and projects with him.
In the end, the only real monsters are humans.
Saturday’s shooting was an unwelcome reminder of something we’ve gradually come to learn in this strange era that began with the Columbine shooting in 1999 — shootings can happen anywhere, anytime, to anyone. But it’s not something we even needed a reminder of; most college students today have never known a world where the threat of an armed shooter hasn’t been an ever-present danger.
It’s also an unwelcome reminder of something else: nearly eight decades after the beginning of the Holocaust, anti-Semitism is once again alive and well.
And if to punctuate the awful weekend of updates about the shooting, racism directed at another group showed up again on San Diego State’s campus when interdisciplinary senior CJ Simmons, who is black, tweeted images of racist messages sent to him. In videos shared with The Daily Aztec, a man can be heard calling Simmons a “monkey” and threatening to hang him like an “ornament” off a tree. This just weeks after SDSU’s Black Resource Center was broken into, and nearly two months after a video was recorded in which men can be heard driving past the center shouting the n-word.
Every time this editorial board has to condemn another form of racism or discrimination, it’s disheartening. We stand with Jewish people in San Diego and all over the world, and we will never accept hate directed against them. And we will continue to stand with the black community, as we said a very short while ago when the Black Resource Center was first targeted.
We wonder why these things still exist in our modern era. But we will not back down.
We know words are cheap. But as a student newspaper, they’re all we have. So to the racists of the world, we will say this: the contempt you hold for your fellow brothers and sisters belies your true weakness, for none but cowards have ever felt the need to falsely assert their superiority.