No place for violent racists in either party

I’ve lived in Greenbush for decades, and my wife’s family roots here go back nearly a century. We consider ourselves locals and feel totally at home on the Sunrise Side. But we are also Jewish Democrats from Pittsburgh, where I and our children were born. The recent synagogue shootings in our old neighborhood have challenged our lifelong belief that America is one of the few places Jews are safe.

Most of my local friends, not surprisingly, are Republican Christians. We get along fine, respecting each other as good people and patriotic Americans, despite disagreeing on multiple issues. Had these friends been present at the shooting, I’m sure they would have risked their lives to save people. Furthermore, I don’t believe that President Donald Trump would have ever wanted such an atrocity to take place, although I fear his careless language might inadvertently encourage unstable racists.

What really concerns me, however, is that extremists have been permitted a place inside the Republican coalition. I am sure at least 99 percent of Republicans are horrified by the events in Pittsburgh. But, in recent years, Republicans have quietly tolerated the presence of white nationalists in their midst, apparently caring more about their votes than the harm that empowering them could do.

Most Republicans — by far — are not hateful racists. But, unfortunately, most hateful racists these days seem to be Republicans. As Americans of different parties, we may disagree on important issues, from taxes to health care to guns.

But I hope we can still agree that America is a land of freedom and sanctuary for all, and that violent racists have no place in either of our parties. I will be hoping for a sign that the party of Lincoln has realized it is time to clean house.

NATHANIEL BORENSTEIN,

Greenbush