Mourners attend a vigil Sunday for the victims of the Tree of Life Synagogue mass shooting at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum in Pittsburgh. Credit: Michael M. Santiago | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP

On Saturday, an angry white man entered a Pittsburgh synagogue and killed 11 people who were celebrating Shabbat and the birth of a new member of the congregation. The oldest victim was 97. A couple in their 80s were killed as were two adult brothers who were fixtures at the synagogue.

The shooter targeted Jews because he believed they were responsible for the caravan of Central American refugees who are walking toward the United States. He believed this because right-wing conspiracy websites have been peddling this non-truth, blaming the caravan on George Soros, a philanthropist and supporter of open government who is Jewish. In fact, thousands of Central American migrants are trying to make the 1,000-mile trek to find better opportunities and avoid persecution. Many will never make it to America.

Saturday’s shooting was the latest in a string of abhorrent attacks. In recent days, 13 pipe bombs were sent to former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, Democratic lawmakers, CNN, Soros and others, all of whom President Donald Trump has identified as his enemies.

On Friday, Cesar Sayoc Jr. was arrested in Florida and charged with sending the 13 pipe bombs. Sayoc apparently lived in a van plastered with pro-Trump propaganda, and he voiced a hatred of blacks, Jews and gays, according to his boss.

On Wednesday, a gunman tried to enter a black church in Kentucky before heading to a nearby supermarket where he killed a black man and black women. He reportedly told a white man who confronted him with a gun that “whites don’t kill whites.”

Last Monday, at a rally in Houston, Trump proudly declared: “I am a nationalist,” to distinguish himself from the “globalists.” Later, when asked about using those words, Trump said he wasn’t aware of the historical connotations. Historically, well-known nationalists include Adolf Hitler, Francisco Franco and Benito Mussolini, and a globalist is a veiled reference to Jews, who have long been wrongly blamed for woes around the world.

A hatred and distrust of people who are different — whether from a different culture, race or religion — is the thread that binds these events together. Rather than using these differences to divide us, as too many politicians, especially Trump, do, we are in desperate need of leaders who can bridge these differences and bring us together.

Throughout the weekend, Trump showed glimmers of taking on this role, even though he attended a rally in Illinois hours after the Pittsburgh shootings. He justified his attendance by falsely arguing that the New York Stock Exchange opened the day after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. It did not; it remained closed for four days.

“This wicked act of mass murder is pure evil,” the president said at a farming convention in Indianapolis on Saturday. He added that Americans should stand up to “any form of religious hatred or prejudice.”

Any hope that Trump would take responsibility for his role in inflaming hatred and intolerance in America was dashed Monday, when the president took to Twitter to a gain blame the media.

“There is great anger in our Country caused in part by inaccurate, and even fraudulent, reporting of the news,” he tweeted shortly after 5 a.m. “The Fake News Media, the true Enemy of the People, must stop the open & obvious hostility & report the news accurately & fairly. That will do much to put out the flame…”

It may be futile to hope that Trump will stop blaming others, especially the media, for the hatred that is despoiling America. But Americans can take a stand now by rejecting any politician, political party and political action committee that exploits untruths about immigrants, “globalists” like Soros and others to try to win votes. Saying no to hatred and division at the ballot box is the strongest message voters can send.

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