“What has violence ever accomplished? What has it ever created? No martyr’s cause has ever been stilled by an assassin’s bullet. No wrongs have ever been righted by riots and civil disorders. A sniper is only a coward, not a hero; and an uncontrolled or uncontrollable mob is only the voice of madness, not the voice of the people.” –Robert Kennedy
Twelve hours after the October 27 shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the United States, I dropped by the home of Rabbi George and his wife, Helene, in Brooklyn.
“The Rabbi is sluggish,” said Helene, a school teacher. “He didn’t go to the synagogue today (Hebrew Sabbath day).”
“It’s been an awful Sabbath day because of what happened in Pittsburgh,” she added. “I can’t understand why there is so much hatred in the hearts of some people.”
When I entered their home, George was sitting in a swivel chair facing the computer in his office.
“Is it raining outside, Alex?” the Rabbi asked in hoarse voice. “Yes, Rabbi George,” I answered. “It’s been raining all day.”
“I didn’t go to the synagogue today, as scheduled, and I don’t intend to go out,” the Rabbi sighed. “I have been monitoring the news in Pittsburgh and, before you came, I listened to the testimony by a lot of people interviewed by media about the massacre – I feel bad about what happened.”
“I don’t want to die that way, Alex,” he blurted out.
“The way to die should be sleeping at night and not being able to wake up the next morning, not being hit by a speeding automobile or being violently shot in the head,” he explained. The rabbi then apologized as he could not face me, adding, “Because I can’t easily move my feet.”
George mourned the death of his fellow Jews at the hands of bloody anti-Semitic carnage. According to reports, it was the worst attack against the Jewish community in US history.
The Rabbi slightly turned his head and shoulder to the right side and said: “When I was younger, people with no education were dangerous because of their lack of understanding and empathy on many cultural and religious issues. Today, it’s the educated who have become more dangerous because of the hate in their hearts.”
George and Helene were referring to the 11 elderly Jews massacred by a suspected white supremacist Robert Bowers.
Six others were seriously injured.
A total 29 charges, two of which pertain to federal hate crimes, have been filed against Bowers, who could face a death penalty.
I received mixed reactions to my article about former Philippine National Police (PNP) Director-General Ronald ‘Bato’ dela Rosa, who is running for Senate in next year’s midterm elections. Some of his supporters claimed I “vilified” the former Bureau of Corrections chief when I attributed the thousands of summary executions associated with the campaign against illegal drugs to his tenure as PNP chief.
After reviewing my article several times, I didn’t see any sentence where I maligned the senatorial candidate, who is being backed by President Rodrigo Duterte.
I mentioned how I only wanted to interview him because of so many questions I had in mind, including the upsurge of extrajudicial killings, which has alarmed the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Interviewing (or aspiring to interview) any controversial personality in Philippine government, in the name of public interest, is not a violation of the law or, to borrow the words of dela Rosa’s supporters, a “vilification campaign.”/WDJ