I had started to write this post talking about law, and social order, and what needs to be done to stop these people. But I'm too angry to write coherently about this right now.
There is a very powerful lesson you learn growing up as a Jew: there is no such thing as a threat against "those people over there." If a mob is killing black people, or Muslims, or Salvadorans, or whatever one day, they will just as happily turn around and kill you and your family the next. What pulls mobs together is not hate for a particular group: it's the joy of hate itself, of being able to express violence with impunity. That includes everything from simple verbal violence -- being able to rant against groups, violently and vehemently, and receiving the approbation of your friends -- to mobs that burn, rape, and murder. It's the joy of having a family whose history is an endless sequence of fleeing, or failing to flee, ethnic violence.
Many people have talked about how there is no "us and them" in such violence; you have probably heard Niemöller's famous "first they came for the Socialists" quote. But when you live this -- when you have call trees for your family members that you go through every time violence happens near them, to see who's all right -- the terror becomes much more real, much more stomach-churning.
When I read this story, or the story of the murders of Yusor Abu-Salha, Deah Barakat, and Razan Abu-Salha in Chapel Hill, I have a terror for my Muslim friends, and worry if the violence will trigger more of it and put them in danger. Likewise the lynching of James Anderson frightens me for my black friends; other murders for trans friends, for Jewish friends, for sex worker friends, for any number of groups of people that I know will be put in danger because violence tends to spread.
But I know that after that, lying in bed at night, I'm going to have the second worry: that when the violence spreads, my own family might be in danger as well.
Hate is like arson: it is feared not just for what it does, but because it can spread.
This fire is frightening not simply because it happened, but because it happened four days after the Chapel Hill murders. It's a blaze spreading from one rooftop to another, and it must be put out.
h/t +Saladin Ahmed
for the link.