Six months to the day after the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, and on the last day of Passover, a horrific shooting at Chabad of Poway synagogue in San Diego on Saturday has us again grieving the senseless loss of precious life, terrible injuries and untold trauma. We condemn the anti-Semitism at the root of this unspeakable act. Committing this hate crime in a house of worship – a place of peace where people come together to celebrate, share in and give thanks for the profound gifts of creation – is a violation beyond words. This act connects to the horror last week of Sri Lanka and, before that, the Christchurch, New Zealand, mosque shootings, the massacre at Tree of Life synagogue, in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, and the murders in the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, in Charleston. These actions differ only in scale and in specific target. Their motivation is the same: hatred, coupled with the desire to strike terror into the heart of communities around the world. Ironically, these multi-denominational killings show that no religion is safe from persecution, no people are safe and no sacred space is above defiling. None of us will be safe until we all are safe. We cannot be safe if guns are available for purchase to nearly anyone who desires one.
Here, at UNC-Chapel Hill, we also are facing down racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and other isms. We have seen white supremacists come to our campus; we have found racist graffiti on our monuments; we have found (most recently) anti-Semitic fliers in one of our libraries; and we were left stunned and outraged by an inappropriate performance at a UNC conference intended to explore ways to mitigate the challenges of Gaza. There is undoubtedly more that I don’t know about. These manifestations of hatred also aim to strike fear in us, most especially in those toward whom they are specifically targeted. We need to push, with every muscle we have, against these forms of hatred. I am grateful to Gillings School faculty and staff members, students and alumni, who, every day, work actively to create an inclusive, just, equitable School, University and society. This is not easy work, but it is at the foundation of a peaceful, healthy world. The more people taking part in this work, the more likely we are to counter the hatred we decry.
As shared in Interim Chancellor Guskiewicz’s message, if you need help, the following campus resources are available:
- Counseling and Psychological Services for students: 919-966-3658.
- The University’s Employee Assistance Program is available for faculty and staff: 877-314-5841.
If you ever feel threatened or in danger, please call 911 in an emergency situation or contact University Police at 919-962-3951. If you have not done so already, please download the LiveSafe app and use it. And, of course, many of us across the Gillings School have open doors to you.
The views expressed in this blog are Barbara Rimer’s alone and do not represent the views and policies of The University of North Carolina or the Gillings School.