Last week, in an act of unimaginable hatred perpetrated upon the Jewish community, 11 residents of Pittsburgh, the pillars of their congregation, were gunned down in cold blood as they prayed at the Tree of Life Congregation in Squirrel Hill. We must condemn this inexplicable, senseless massacre which threatens all of those who believe in the fundamental freedoms upon which our democracy is built.
The events that took place in Pittsburgh are heartbreaking as an isolated event, but last week we saw so many acts of violence that have no place in any civilized society. Two African Americans were killed in a grocery store in Kentucky when a white nationalist could not gain entry into a black church. Bombs were sent to two former presidents, members of the House of Representatives and the Senate, as well as members of the media. This news weighs heavy on our hearts at a time when our country needs leadership to call for unity, understanding, and compassion.
Make no mistake, these events are born of the increasing polarization, intolerance, and hatred that has invaded this country’s fiber. And the rhetoric coming from our leaders in Washington only inflames the darker side of America, emboldening people who seek to cause harm and destruction based on race, religion, or gender.
That’s why we must draw a line in the sand and proudly declare that these aren’t our values, and this isn’t who we are as Americans.
In Livingston this past weekend, I had the honor of joining the community at Temple B’nai Abraham at a vigil for the murdered congregants of Tree of Life. There, Rabbi Clifford Kulwin reminded those present, including elected officials and those seeking office, that an attack on one is an attack on us all. I heard his words clearly. It is our responsibility as leaders to take action — to do something.
We deserve more from our leaders. We deserve representatives who believe in the values that define us as Americans, who will put partisanship aside for a greater good. We deserve leaders who will speak out against those that threaten our freedoms and we deserve leaders that will fight for you.
I am running for Congress to serve the people of New Jersey. I am running for Congress because I believe that this country is at its best when we honor our values.
As we head into the midterm election, we must take Rabbi Kulwin’s message to heart. We must remember that there is more that unites us than divides us. We must stop making Israel a partisan issue. We must pass common-sense gun laws. We all must strive to make the world a better place for future generations. And we must remember that words without deeds are worthless.
I took my first oath to protect and defend the Constitution at 18 years old — to defend freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press — and those are the values that I will bring with me to Congress.
Mikie Sherrill is a U.S. Navy veteran, federal prosecutor, and mom of four. She is running for Congress in New Jersey’s 11th Congressional District. NJJN has offered major local candidates the opportunity to state their viewpoints.