Monday Morning Message 10.29.2018: We've Got to Stop the Hate

Posted 2018-10-29 1:13pm

“We’ve got to stop the hate.” - Rabbi Jeffrey Myers, Tree of Life Synagogue

“Evil exists, transcending time, space and the ideologies of the day. The challenge is to answer it with goodness.”  - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, October 28, 2018

“I mourn the human beings who were murdered as they participated in the ritual celebrating the miracle of existence, who weren’t able to finish their prayer for the healing of the world.”  - Franklin Foer, staff writer, The Atlantic

At about 9am on Saturday morning, I sat down to write an upbeat Monday Morning Message about one of the best days in our law school’s history this past Friday. We learned that Cleveland-Marshall had the highest pass rate (93%) in Ohio on the July 2018 bar exam, we held our very successful 2nd annual Hall of Fame celebration, and we announced a very generous gift from distinguished alumnus, Kelly Tompkins ’81.

But that’s now a message for another day. An hour later, I stopped writing when I heard the horrific news that many Jewish worshipers on the Sabbath had been murdered at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.

In good conscience, I couldn’t write another word about our good news in light of the pain and suffering of so many at the hands of a hate-filled shooter armed with an AR-15-style assault rifle, shouting anti-Semitic slurs. The victims and their families and friends are in our thoughts and prayers.

This hate crime was even more heart-wrenching for me and my family because my great-uncle, Phil Weiner, was once the President of the Tree of Life Synagogue. Before my grandparents moved to Ohio, they and many of their relatives lived in Pittsburgh, and my grandparents are buried in the Tree of Life Synagogue cemetery. Below is a photo of my great-uncle Phil Weiner at the groundbreaking of the Tree of Life Synagogue in 1948. He is the tall one with a hat, bow tie, and mustache.

32 years ago, as state senators, Mike White (later Cleveland’s Mayor) and I co-authored Ohio’s hate crime law, one of the first hate crime laws in the country. 8 years later, as Attorney General, I had the unique opportunity to defend the constitutionality of Ohio’s hate crime law before the Ohio Supreme Court.

The premise of our legislation can be found in Dr. Martin Luther King’s words, “Morality cannot be legislated, but behavior can be regulated. Judicial decrees may not change the heart, but they can restrain the heartless.”Punishment, however, is always after the fact.

We must focus our efforts on the causes. Saturday’s massacre came in the wake of more than a dozen pipe bombs being sent to critics of President Trump and at a time when dormant hatreds are being activated by divisive and toxic political rhetoric and conspiracy theories about immigrants and refugees based not on fact but on fear.

 We must hold ourselves, each other, and our elected leaders accountable for attitudes, words and actions.

 My wife, Peggy Zone Fisher, President and CEO of the Diversity Center of Northeast Ohio, recently said,

We must never lose sight of what binds us together. Our success as a community depends on our ability to reject scapegoating, bigotry, fear and hate-mongering, and to march to a future that embraces optimism, hope, understanding and diversity.”

At Cleveland-Marshall, we are educating and inspiring a new generation of leaders who are not afraid to speak out forcefully against hate, divisiveness, and intolerance and to embrace civility, diversity and inclusion.

If you would like to contribute to a special fund for the victims of the tragedy in Pittsburgh, please visit: https://jewishpgh.org/our-victims-of-terror-fund/ and/or please consider a donation to HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) which was the target of the killer’s wrath in a social media posting shortly before his deadly rampage.

My best,

Lee

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My views in all my Monday Morning Messages are my personal views alone and do not reflect the views of our Law School or our University.

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