Appearing on Fox and Friends on Monday morning, presidential advisor Kellyanne Conway made a strange comment about the Saturday shootings in a Pittsburgh synagogue that left 11 dead. “The anti-religiosity in this country that is somehow in vogue and funny,” she said. “To make fun of anybody of faith. To constantly be making fun of people who express religion, the late night comedians, the unfunny people on TV shows. It’s always anti-religious. And remember, these people were gunned down in their place of worship. As were the people in South Carolina several years ago.”
The element of truth here is that there has been a pattern in the last few years of racists targeting ethnic and racial minorities in places of worship: in 2015, a racist killed six Sikhs at a temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. In 2016, a racist killed nine African-Americans in a church in Charleston, South Carolina. In 2016, a racist killed six Muslims in a Mosque in Quebec City, Canada. Last week, an alleged gunman tried to enter a black church in Jeffersontown, Kentucky. When he failed to do so, he allegedly entered a nearby supermarket and killed two African Americans.
The Pittsburgh massacre fits this pattern. The alleged shooter subscribed to racist and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. The commonality of these killings and attempted killings is racism and anti-Semitism, not anti-religiosity. The various gunmen picked their targets because that was where a large number of ethnic and racial minorities congregate, not because of any militant secularism or love of anti-pious jokes on late-night television. Bringing up the spurious issue of “anti-religiosity” falls into the familiar Trump administration pattern of muddying the waters to deny the existence of racism.