State Rep. Reid Falconer (R-Mandeville) said the shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue this morning was an act of domestic terrorism that insults the very humanity and essential freedoms of our country.

"Last month, vandals spray-painted swastikas and other atrocities on a Jewish house of worship in my district," Falconer said. "Other religious institutions have been similarly assailed around the country. And now, Pittsburgh. It wounds my heart to see the level of hatred some are willing to exhibit. It is infuriating that houses of worship are not free from bigots and predators. This is completely against the founding principles of our country, and we must all stand up and challenge the thinking and the rhetoric that feeds this evil.

"For too long, we have been distracted in the aftermath of such crimes by the issue of politics, and it has diverted our attention from the real problem: we, ourselves," Falconer said. "We cannot wait until attacks like this to condemn violence and prejudice. We have to do it all day, every day, and against any enemy of our peaceful coexistence as neighbors and fellow Americans. For that matter, we must stand against enemies of the peaceful amity of all fellow humans.

"We are free to disagree in this country, and it's one of our most cherished rights. Those of us who choose not to embrace hatred have to make it known and have to stand up, be heard and say what we believe - that we are a free people, all with the same rights. If we don't, if we stay silent, we become part of the problem.

"No one should have to be afraid when we worship. No one. For now, in this hour, all I can do is pray for the victims and heroes of the Pittsburgh atrocity. But I can also say and ask others to join in saying that we will not tolerate this, and we will not feed it."


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