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Synagogue Massacre Aftermath: Media Blame Trump as Midterms Muddied by Hate Speech and Fake News

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President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump visited Pittsburgh Tuesday to show support for those mourning the 11 people shot and killed on Saturday by a gunman inside the Tree of Life synagogue.

The president's visit comes one week before the country's midterm elections and has itself proved to be controversial.

Jeffrey Meyers, the rabbi of the synagogue, has welcomed the president but Bill Peduto, the Democratic mayor, has suggested that he should not come while the funerals are taking place.

Over the weekend, the president tweeted that the country "must unite to conquer hate," referring to the alleged gunman's comments to police that he wanted to kill Jews and his social media posts which railed against Jews, calling them "the children of Satan."

The president called the synagogue massacre an "evil, anti-Semitic attack" that was an assault on humanity.

But his critics are accusing him of helping to spur the attack, saying his political rhetoric is the problem.

On the campaign trail Monday, former Vice President Joe Biden said, "Words from our leaders matter."  In a not-so-veiled jab at the president, he said, "It's on our leaders to set the tone, to dial down the temperature."

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg criticized the president's rhetoric as well saying, "You don't use the bully pulpit as the president of the United States to rile up people and to say things as a joke or a campaign promise."

On Monday, the president posted multiple tweets calling out the "fake news" and the "fake news media" for stirring up hatred in the country.

Later in the day, ABC News reporter Jonathan Karl referenced the tweets and asked White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, "When you say he's trying to unite the country, why is he out there making these attacks?"

Sanders shot back that the media had failed to cover the president's condemnation of the massacre. "The very first thing that the president did was condemn the attacks both in Pittsburgh and the pipe bombs. The very first thing the media did was blame the president and make him responsible for these ridiculous acts."

Christian leaders have condemned the massacre. In the Washington Post, Southern Baptist spokesman Russell Moore noted that Jesus is Jewish and said: "an attack on the Jewish people is an attack on all of us."

Others have called for repentance and an end to inflammatory words.
Lt. Gen. William "Jerry" Boykin of the Family Research Council told CBN News, "We as a nation need to repent. We need to repent for the evil we've allowed into our nation and we need to ask God to be giving us reconciliation."

Rev. Tony Suarez, a faith advisor to the president and executive vice president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, said Christians should take the lead in ending divisive and hateful language. 

"The rhetoric has to come to an end," he told CBN News. "We have to stop pointing fingers. We have to stop looking at someone and trying to figure out 'are you Republican or Democrat?" Instead, Suarez said, we should see them in the light of the Gospel.

"The only thing that drives out darkness is light, and we're called to be the light of the world and as Christians through our vote and through our testimony, our public witness we must, must bring the message of peace to this world that desperately needs it," he said.

It's a message demonstrated by Jewish doctors and nurses who treated the alleged gunman, Robert Bowers, at the hospital after the shooting.

Bowers appeared in federal court on Monday looking calm and quiet as he faced legal proceedings that could eventually lead to the death penalty.
On Monday night, the state of Pennsylvania lit the capitol in blue in honor of those who lost their lives.

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About The Author


Heather Sells covers wide-ranging stories for CBN News that include religious liberty, ministry trends, immigration, and education. She’s known for telling personal stories that capture the issues of the day, from the border sheriff who rescues migrants in the desert to the parents struggling with a child that identifies as transgender. In the last year, she has reported on immigration at the Texas border, from Washington, D.C., in advance of the Dobbs abortion case, at crisis pregnancy centers in Massachusetts, and on sexual abuse reform at the annual Southern Baptist meeting in Anaheim