The Atlantic Daily: An American Massacre

A gunman killed 11 people at a synagogue in Pittsburgh on Saturday. In the aftermath, a prayer for the victims, a look at America’s environments of hate, calls to action, and more

Police officers guard the Tree of Life synagogue the day after a mass shooting on October 27, 2018 (Aaron Josefczyk / Reuters)

Editor’s note: On Saturday, a gunman opened fire at the Tree of Life Congregation synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania during its morning services, killing 11 people—many of them elderly worshipers—and wounding several others. The suspect, a 46-year-old white male charged with 29 federal counts, including hate crimes, had reportedly shouted “All Jews must die” before the shooting, and had left a trail of anti-semitic rage online.

We’re sending you this extra weekend edition of the Atlantic Daily at a moment when fear and confusion can weigh heavily in conversations around gun violence, anti-religious hate crimes, and political action—or inaction.

What to Read

A prayer for the the victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre
“When Rabbi Joseph Miller learned of the Squirrel Hill massacre, less than a mile from his own pulpit, he ordered the doors of his synagogue locked,” Franklin Foer writes. “Despite his congregants’ terror that they would be next, they recited the mi sheberach. They didn’t pray for their own protection; they prayed for the healing of others.” → Read on.

Must this nation worship safely only behind bars and guards?
“There’s no politician to blame for the ideas in the synagogue murderer’s head. There are plenty to blame for the weapons in his hands,” David Frum argues. “And at the top of that list is Trump, whose response to the killing was to blame the synagogue for not having armed guards of its own.” → Read on.

The president believes the only way to combat terror is to yield to demands of violence
“Trumpism demands that violence be solved by local militarization: increased security at schools, the arming of teachers, and now, the adoption of guns in places intended quite literally to be sanctuaries from the scourges of the world,” Vann R. Newkirk II argues. “Taken altogether, what Trumpism seems to intend is the creation—or perhaps the expansion—of the machinery of a police state.” → Read on.

The Pittsburgh synagogue shooter’s internet of hate
“The suspected shooter was reportedly active on social media, where he posted hateful messages, including just hours before the attack. Bowers didn’t make these anti-semitic statements on Twitter or Facebook or even Reddit, but on the small social network Gab, popular with white nationalists and the alt-right.” → Read on.

Why the Jewish aid agency HIAS became a target
“As one of the nine voluntary agencies in charge of reception and placement services for refugees arriving in the United States, HIAS has been an active and respected partner of past administrations. However, its relationship with the Trump administration has grown increasingly contentious. HIAS was a partner in the federal suits over the travel ban on Muslim refugees.” → Read on.

Saturday’s mass shooting marks a surge of anti-semitism in the U.S.
“FBI hate crime statistics for 2016, the most recent year available, show that more than half of reported anti-religious hate crimes in the U.S. were motivated by anti-Semitism. That’s been consistent in recent years, while bias against Muslims, who make up about 1 percent of Americans, was responsible for about a fifth of hate crimes.” → Read on.

Trump went ahead with his Illinois rally on Saturday, toned down and tone deaf
“The president drew a parallel between holding the rally and how his friend, Dick Grasso, he said, had insisted upon opening the New York Stock Exchange the day after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. But that hadn’t happened—the exchange had closed for three trading days and a weekend.” → Read on.

The nation has in its president a man who often struggles to provide consolation and unity
“The spate of bombs sent to critics of the president this week demonstrates the problem well. Faced with assassination attempts aimed at a former president and others, Trump on Wednesday initially called for unity, but by a rally Wednesday night was back to aggressively bashing opponents. On Thursday, he blamed the press for the attacks. On Friday, he suggested that the bombs were a ‘false flag’ designed to hurt his Republican Party in the impending midterm elections.” → Read on.

This special edition of The Daily was compiled by Shan Wang. Concerns, comments, questions? Email her at

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