Rabbi Michael Barclay
Why Did the Highland Park Shooter Target a Jewish Neighborhood?
We are all aware of the terrible shooting that occurred while celebrating America’s independence in Highland Park, a suburb of Chicago, and we now know about the suspect, Bobby Crimo. What makes this act even more horrific than the many other constant shootings in Chicago (over 250 so far this year), are both the reactions and the specific circumstances of this tragic event and the perpetrator.
There have been the predictable and intellectually dishonest reactions from the left claiming this proves the need for more gun control. From Illinois Gov. Pritzker on down, the leftist politicians are using this event to promote their anti-gun agenda, and Illinois State Senator Julie Morrison has said she will never attend a 4th of July parade again (what a nice excuse for her never having to honor this nation). Although a sad commentary on our politicians, this is in no way shocking.
But there is a deeper insidiousness that is related to this shooting. There are dozens and perhaps hundreds of July 4th parades in Illinois, and many thousands across the nation. Why was Highland Park a target when there were at least six other similar parades within driving distance? Who is Crimo, and why did he choose the Highland Park parade as his target?
Highland Park and its surrounding suburbs (which include both Skokie and Deerfield) are known for their specific demographics, which include a historical Jewish community that is 30% of the city’s population and supports four Orthodox synagogues. It is in understanding this demographic that we start to see how and why this tragedy happened in Highland Park on America’s birthday. Although police have not released Crimo’s motive for the shooting, by looking at his past actions we can get a glimpse into how he may have been influenced by his environment and by indoctrination at school and the media.
As Kevin Downey pointed out, Crimo planned this attack for weeks, legally purchased two rifles, self-described himself as “woke,” and dressed as a woman. Clearly, he is disturbed and wanted people to know what he was about to do. But he also attempted a rehearsal of the July 4 shooting weeks earlier when he tried to enter a Highland Park synagogue during Passover just two blocks from where he ultimately attacked the parade. He was forcibly asked to leave by the temple’s armed security. He is a manifestation of all the left stands for, including wokeness, gender fluidity, and anti-Semitism.
If we are honest, this violent act by Crimo appears to be a reflection of the domestic terrorism and hatred of the BLM/Antifa riots of two years ago, which targeted specific neighborhoods, including and especially Jewish ones. We should remember that the head of BLM Los Angeles said that the riots were planned in an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood so that “the people there would feel pain.” BLM, in their charter, is committed to the destruction of Israel, and this incident in Highland Park reeks of the same sort of anti-American/anti-Semitic values that BLM, Antifa, and the “woke” left hold so dear.
With the acceptance and support of BLM and Antifa’s hatred, and terrorism by politicians, corporations, the media, and especially educators, we are inculcating our young people with anti-American values. This 21-year-old suspect has likely been exposed to the hatred of BLM during the formative years of his life. For the last few years, he has been taught BLM’s values by the media—that he is a recipient of “white privilege,” that Jews and Israel are evil, that religiosity of all sorts should be eliminated, and that he needs to violently fight for Marxist values in order to redeem himself. He likely learned that this type of outrageous behavior against anything traditionally deemed “American” is not only accepted but applauded by many. Looking at the success of BLM/Antifa activists and the near worshipping of other domestic terrorists who want to destroy the United States, why would Crimo think anything other than that he would be praised for shooting up a 4th of July parade in a Jewish neighborhood?
The key point to take away from this horrible shooting is not that we need more gun restrictions. It is that we need to combat the efforts by media and educators who desire to rewrite history and condemn the United States rather than praise her. As we have for over 200 years, we need to teach our children about the beauty of this great country and its values, and to embrace the melting-pot diversity of races, religions, and backgrounds that is the foundation of this country’s history. As has always been the “American way,” we need to respect our different backgrounds. While the left wants to divide us based on our differences, we need to come together under one nation, one flag, and shared American values…despite the efforts of the media and educators to divide us.
The media and especially the education system is where the left has been successfully fighting, as evidenced in this most recent shooting and the background and adopted values of Crimo. It’s where we need to direct our efforts with passion and commitment (remembering that homeschooling, although difficult, can be a great choice). We must fight against the leftist, anti-Semitic, anti-American, hate-filled rhetoric of the media and educators, and return this country to the shared values of a truly United States—for us, our nation, and the future.
As Dr. Rabin Beral has written, we need to teach our children not to waste time on Instagram and TikTok, but rather to remember that they “have more freedom in this country than in any other country in the world.” This is what is required of each of us to eliminate shootings like this one in Highland Park: educating our youth in American values so that they don’t end up like Crimo, but instead live righteous and caring lives.
The real battle for freedom continues from July 4, 1776, through today. The battlefield is education. Our weapons are American history and values. The prize is the future of liberty and freedom in this nation, and in the world.
May we always continue to celebrate July 4th in safety and peace, and may we return to the shared American values that have kept us strong and protected as a nation united under God, indivisible, and truly with liberty and justice for all.
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