In the wake of a shooting massacre at a synagogue and a series of mail bombs, a former Homeland Security chief said the U.S. currently has a “toxic” political environment in which “deranged” people “feel it’s their place” to bring about change.
Jeh Johnson, who was Homeland Security Secretary under President Barack Obama, told “This Week” Co-Anchor Martha Raddatz, “We’re in an environment now where deranged individuals feel that it’s their place to bring about change in our society with an AR-15 or a series of pipe bombs.”
Johnson said Americans need to pressure their leaders to promote a more civil public dialogue.
“We live now in a very, very toxic environment that includes an incivility in our political discourse among our leaders. The attack yesterday and the attempted pipe bombings over the course of last week should be a wake-up call to all Americans to demand change and change has to start at the top,” he said.
Eleven people were killed and six more were injured, including four police officers, when a shooter opened fire at a Pittsburgh synagogue Saturday. in Pittsburgh Saturday. Police have arrested a suspect, 46-year-old Robert Bowers, not long after he committed the attack at the Tree of Life Or L’Simcha congregation in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood. Law enforcement officials say Bowers acted alone in the attack.
Bowers was charged with 29 federal counts late Saturday, including several hate crimes. He is facing 11 counts of obstruction of exercise of religious beliefs resulting in death, 11 counts of use of a firearm to commit murder, four counts of obstruction of exercise of religious belief resulting in bodily injury to a public safety officer and three counts of use and discharge of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.
The suspected had allegedly posted anti-Semitic and anti-refugee messages on the social media site Gab, a platform popular among far-right figures, including a message on his profile that said “Jews are the children of Satan.”
President Trump condemned the attack as an “anti-Semitic crime” while speaking at a rally in Illinois yesterday.
“This evil anti-Semitic attack is an assault on all of us. It’s an assault on humanity. It will require all of us working together to extract the hateful poison of anti-semitism from our world. This was an anti-Semitic attack at its worst. The scourge of anti-Semitism cannot be ignored, cannot be tolerated and it cannot be allowed to continue,” Trump said.
The Anti-Defamation League condemned the attack in a statement, saying it was “unconscionable for Jews to be targeted during worship on a Sabbath morning.”
“This is the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the history of the United States,” the ADL said in a statement.
Jonathan Greenblatt, the ADL’s CEO and Executive Director, also appeared on This Week and told Raddatz that anti-Semitism cannot be normalized and must be prevented from spreading.
“All of this is absolutely unacceptable and we cannot create a situation or allow ourselves to normalize anti-Semitism and think this is somehow just an average daily course of business. It’s abnormal and it needs to be interrupted and stopped.”