A Canadian’s Thoughts on Pittsburg & Trump

Andrea Toole
7 min readOct 30, 2018


“Star of David stained glass” by Yosef Pregadio on Unsplash

[Language warning: I use the word “fuck” in this piece more than I have used in any other. Or maybe you have your browser extension set to replace it with the word “Fork”, as they use in The Good Place. Also, I use Canadian spelling. I wrote all the thoughts yesterday and added some research today.]

I’m a Canadian, living in Canada, so Trump’s opinions and policies only affect me marginally. None of us Canadians (except maybe some with dual citizenship) voted him in — and yet in a way, we’re stuck with him too.

I hear (read) people on social media blaming the U.S. president for the Pittsburgh shooting. I also have read that the shooter hated Trump because his daughter is married to a Jew.

Someone I know is of the opinion that Trump can’t be an anti-Semite because of his Jewish family. A counter-argument I made is that this is like those who say, “I’m not racist, I have a black friend.” (Or similarly justifies homophobic or misogynist behaviour.)

I don’t know whether Trump is anti-Semitic or not and I honestly limit the amount I read on the issues of unrest in the U.S. because it upsets me. I’ve read about his support of White Nationalists and his lack of condemnation of their actions. I can’t avoid news about his immigration policies. The whole MAGA thing? I can’t even.

Here’s my perspective, as someone north of the border. I might be wrong, but it’s how I see things from what I read and hear in the media — which I know is biased (but not fake news), what I read on social media and what I read in Trump’s own Twitter feed:

1. The problem never went away

People who hate gays/blacks/Jews/the other have always existed.

The haters never stopped hating.

They hid, and they hated, and they shared their conspiracy theories, and they had their little online group chats (which probably go back to BBS days), and they waited. They passed the hate onto the next generation.

The groups of haters were uncomfortable when Obama was president and, if what I read or don’t read in the news is any indication, they mostly remained segregated and quiet, keeping to themselves.

Then Trump took his seat in the oval office, and all of the hateful, ignorant, poor excuses for human beings came out of hiding because they felt justified. They decided that it was okay. They found their community above ground. MAGA gave “white nationalists” and other hate groups permission to be seen. This is disgusting.

From The Atlantic:

FBI hate-crime statistics for 2016, the most recent year available, show that more than half of reported antireligious hate crimes in the United States were motivated by anti-Semitism.

**The writing has literally been on the wall.**

The writing has literally been on the wall — as hate graffiti. As swastikas. As the destruction of property.

It’s been on the wall metaphorically — as bomb threats, as verbal attacks and as physical attacks.

Also from the above-mentioned article in The Atlantic:

Jewish people bear the brunt of religious bias in America, even though just 2 percent of U.S. residents are Jewish.

From another article in The Atlantic (which links to the one above):

Fatal attacks against American Jews have been far less common than these other forms of discrimination. And yet American history is full of episodes of physical violence against Jews and Jewish institutions.

Think about all that.

Is the campaign and election of Trump in 2016–2017 responsible? Are the Republicans? I can’t answer that, but many people make that connection.

I don’t want this to be a debate of left vs. right wing because that division bothers me (more on that another time, maybe). I wish we could all love and respect each other regardless of religion, culture, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender.

If we’re going to dislike people, and we will, dislike everyone equally on their own merits or lack thereof. Don’t dislike out of ignorance. Don’t hate. You can simultaneously love and dislike someone. It happens all the time in families. Dislike is not hate. Hate is evil. Hate is extreme. Hate has no sound reason.

2. They made us see them

A part of me thinks that it’s better that they be visible than remain hidden and that this is the “upside” of MAGA and Trump’s other demonstrations of insanity. Which is more dangerous, overt hate or covert hate?
-In this question, “danger” should not be confused with “damage”.

Obviously, I’d prefer that the hate groups didn’t exist at all and that none of this shit happened. However, now that the Evil ones are out, we’re aware, and we can’t ignore them. We know they exist because they told us so.

It was one thing to scrub off the hate graffiti, talk about how terrible the incident was, get some sound bites from the Anti-Defamation League and community leaders, and move on.


We can’t pretend that the perpetrators of hate don’t exist. By “we”, I mean society, regardless of where in the world we live.

Well, we’ve been reminded.

Guns?? Really??

“If they had protection inside, the results would have been better.”

I don’t know about you, but this sounds like victim-blaming to me. “If the victim [had defended him or herself, or hadn’t gone to a place or dressed a certain way, etc.] then it wouldn’t have happened to him/her.”

I truly don’t believe that Trump was blaming the victims, but still.

I think that it was another ill-conceived, dumb-ass statement to fall out of his mouth that he now has to explain.

Perhaps armed guards would have been able to take swift action (we’ll never know), but that does not change the fact that innocent people were killed out of hate.

Fuck you, Mr. President.

Condemn the killer, not the killed. Next time you want to make a statement that might sound insensitive, keep that opinion within your inner circle. You should know better by now.

“Fucked up normal”

Having armed guards at synagogues isn’t a crazy idea. What’s crazy is that synagogues need to go to that extreme.

In response to Trump’s comments about armed security, a friend of mine, raised Christian but not practicing (as far as I know) wrote this on Facebook yesterday morning:

Houses of worship should not have to have security. Families should be able to practice their faith without having to be worried about being shot in the back of the head while they pray. What is happening to the world when THAT is the response from the President while an entire community (and frankly, the world) is reeling from the gravity of yet another homebred terrorist attack. We cannot become numb to this, even if the POTUS has.

My response was this:

Every single year — in my entire 42 year old life — I’ve seen hired police & security guards at synagogue doors during the high holidays. This year I pointed it out to my boyfriend & stated that it was normal and fucked up. It’s my normal, the normal of all Jews, because the high holidays are when the most Jews are in synagogue at one time.

I’m not sure when or why this began, but I suspect that it was with the Yom Kippur War of 1973. I googled “Jewish high holiday security,” and one of the results was an article written in the Pittsburg Jewish Chronicle in 2017.

Headline: “Community enhances security procedures before High Holidays.”
Subheadline: “In advance of the High Holiday season, Jewish Pittsburgh is taking a proactive approach to make sure it is safe.”

Anti-Semitic acts in the United States are on the rise, with the Anti-Defamation League reporting an 86 percent increase in the first quarter of 2017. During those three months, there were 380 harassment incidents reported, including 161 bomb threats to Jewish communal institutions and 155 vandalism incidents, including three cemetery desecrations.

In advance of the High Holiday season, Jewish Pittsburgh is taking a proactive approach to make sure it is safe, with synagogues, day schools and other institutions upgrading the security of their buildings, while training their staff and volunteers on how to handle a potential crisis.

Despite the security during high holidays, days on which there are more Jews are in synagogue than any other time of year (think Christmas and Easter), no one expects anything bad to happen. Security is just in case.

No one especially expects anything bad to happen on Shabbat (Sabbath) at a quiet little service in a basement.

This shouldn’t be “normal”. The Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh had security on the high holidays but not on Sabbath. No one beefs up security on Shabbat. They don’t feel they need to. Peaceful shabbat. The day of rest after G-d created the world, according to the Old Testament. A day when observant Jews don’t drive or use electricity (including lights, computers and cell phones.

We shouldn’t live in fear.

As I said in my last post here on Medium, “If we all thought about all the bad shit that COULD happen, we’d lose our minds.”

I’m sitting here trying to think of a good concluding statement. All I can say is this: Not this. Not again. Never again.

When someone Jewish dies, it’s customary to say “May his/her memory be a blessing.” May all their memories be blessings. ז״ל



Andrea Toole

Digital Marketing Manager | Freelance Writer | ADHD Mentor | Available for hire. http://andreawrites.ca.