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In aftermath of synagogue shooting, NASW says nation must denounce hate-driven fear mongering

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) condemns the horrific violence that included the killing of 11 worshippers and injuries of six people - including four police officers - at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh over the weekend. We offer our deep condolences to the families and friends of the victims and our support to the city of Pittsburgh and Squirrel Hill neighborhood where the crime occurred. 

As if the shooting of Jewish worshipers was not enough, NASW and the nation are alarmed and saddened that a white supremacist shot and killed two people who are African American at a popular grocery store in suburban Louisville, Ky. Those murders are also being treated as hate crimes. 

The nation is again grappling with the needless losses of life and injuries at the hands of a hate-filled assailant with an assault rifle. This lethal combination has caused hundreds of deaths and injuries across the United States in the past five years. 

This latest senseless attack was carried out by an anti-Semite who also harbored a deep hatred for the immigrant community. However, he is not the only person who believes that religious intolerance, racism, homophobia and xenophobia are acceptable viewpoints and a justification for violence. 

The fact that expressions of white supremacist and other hateful ideology are finding currency in mainstream political discourse is truly frightening. The link between the deaths at the Tree of Life synagogue and the proliferation of hate speech is undeniable. 

Our nation must say no to hate. We must firmly denounce hate driven fear-mongering and the demonization of our differences. We must also refuse to support politicians who use such tactics for votes. It is time for Americans to reaffirm our values and support individuals, institutions, and organizations that ask us to embrace the diversity in our multicultural society. 

It was inspiring to see such a diverse group of people attend the candlelight vigil to mourn the victims of the Tree of Life Synagogue shootings. It was also inspiring to hear the mourners chant “Vote, Vote, Vote!” to represent their call to action to end hate. In this era of intolerance and violence, it seems fitting that we use the ballot as a way to express our dissatisfaction with the status quo. 

NASW empathizes with members of the Jewish community. No one attending a baby naming service at a synagogue should have to fear for their lives because of their religious beliefs. We join the Jewish community in mourning the victims of this heinous attack. We stand with the many Americans who call for an end to hate. NASW will continue our fight to eradicate bigotry in all of its forms.

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW), in Washington, DC, is the largest membership organization of professional social workers. It promotes, develops, and protects the practice of social work and social workers. NASW also seeks to enhance the well-being of individuals, families, and communities through its advocacy.