The Highland Park massacre and the media- and education-driven hatreds that fostered it

We are all aware of the terrible shooting that occurred while celebrating America's independence in Highland Park, a suburb of Chicago, and we now know about the suspect, Bobby Crimo.  What makes this act even more horrific than the many other constant shootings in Chicago (over 250 so far this year) are both the reactions and the specific circumstances of this tragic event and the perpetrator.

Crimo captured (YouTube screen grab — cropped).

There have immediately been the predictable and intellectually dishonest reactions from the left claiming that this proves the need for more gun control.  From Gov. Pritzker on down, the leftist politicians are using this event to promote their anti-gun agenda, and Illinois state senator Julie Morrison has said she will never attend a Fourth of July parade again (what a nice excuse for her never having to honor this nation).  Although a sad commentary on our politicians, this is no way shocking.

But there is a deeper insidiousness that is related to this shooting.  There are dozens and perhaps hundreds of July 4 parades in Illinois, and many thousands across the nation.  Why was Highland Park a target when there were at least six other similar parades within driving distance?  Who is Crimo, and why did he choose the Highland Park parade as his target?

Highland Park and its surrounding suburbs (which includes both Skokie and Deerfield) are known for their specific demographics, including a historical Jewish community that is 30% of the city's population that supports four Orthodox synagogues.  It is in understanding this demographic that we start to see how and why this tragedy happened in Highland Park on America's birthday.  It is also in understanding Crimo's past actions that we can get a deeper glimpse into how Robert Crimo is the direct result of his environment and indoctrination by education and the media.

As Kevin Downey has pointed out, Crimo is someone who planned this attack for weeks, legally purchased two rifles, self-described himself as "woke," and has dressed as a woman.  Clearly, he is disturbed and wanted people to know what he was about to do.  But he also attempted a rehearsal of the July 4 shooting weeks earlier, when he attempted to enter a Highland Park synagogue during Passover just two blocks from where he ultimately attacked the parade and was forcibly asked to leave by the temple's armed security.  He is a manifestation of all the left stands for, including wokeness, gender fluidity, and anti-Semitism.

If we are honest, this violent act by Crimo is a reflection of the domestic terrorism and hatred expressed in the BLM/Antifa riots of two years ago, which targeted specific neighborhoods, including and especially Jewish ones.  We should remember that the head of BLM Los Angeles said the riots were planned in an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood so that "the people there would feel pain."  BLM, in its charter, is committed to the destruction of Israel, and this incident in Highland Park reeks of the same sort of anti-American/anti-Semitic values that BLM, Antifa, and the "woke" left hold so dear.

Through the acceptance and support of BLM's and Antifa's hatred and terrorism by politicians, corporations, the media, and especially educators, we are inculcating our young people with anti-American values.  This 21-year-old suspect has been indoctrinated with the hate of BLM during the formative years of his life.  For the last few years, he has been taught the BLM values in the media that he is a recipient of "white privilege," that Jews and Israel are evil, that religiosity of all sorts should be eliminated, and that he needs to violently fight for Marxist values in order to redeem himself.   He has learned that this type of outrageous behavior against anything traditionally deemed "American" is not only accepted, but applauded by many.  Looking at the success of BLM/Antifa activists and the near-worshiping of other domestic terrorists who want to destroy the United States, why would Crimo think anything other than that he will eventually be praised for shooting up an Independence Day parade in a Jewish neighborhood?

The key point to take away from this horrible shooting is not that we need more gun restrictions.  It is that we need to combat the efforts by media and educators who desire to rewrite history and condemn the United States rather than praise her.  As we have for over 200 years, we need to teach our children the beauty of this great country and its values, and to embrace the melting-pot diversity of races, religions, and backgrounds that is the foundation of this country's history.  As has always been the "American way," we need to respect our different backgrounds but also release them in preference of identifying as Americans.  While the left wants to divide us based on our differences, we need to come together under one nation, one flag, and shared American values...despite the efforts of the media and educators to divide us.

The media and especially the education system are where the left has been successfully fighting, as evidenced in this most recent shooting and the background and adopted values of Crimo, and where we need to direct our efforts with passion and commitment (remembering that homeschooling, although difficult, can be a great choice).  We must fight the leftist, anti-Semitic, anti-American, hate-filled rhetoric of the media and educators and return this country to the shared values of a truly United States.  For us, our nation, and the future.

As Dr. Rabin Beral has written, we need to teach our children not to waste time on Instagram and TikTok, but rather to remember that they "have more freedom in this country than in any other country in the world."  This is what is required of each of us to eliminate shootings like this one in Highland Park: educating our youths in American values so that they don't end up like Crimo, but rather live righteous and caring lives.

The real battle for freedom continues from July 4, 1776 through today.  The battlefield is education; our weapons are American history and values; and the prize is the future of liberty and freedom in this nation and in the world.

May we always continue to celebrate July 4 in safety and peace, and may we return to the shared American values that have kept us strong and protected as a nation united under God, indivisible, and truly with liberty and justice for all.

Rabbi Michael Barclay is the spiritual leader of Temple Ner Simcha in California and the author of "Sacred Relationships: Biblical Wisdom for Deepening Our Lives Together."  He can be reached at

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