Dear Kellyanne Conway, It’s Not About “Anti-Religiosity.” It’s About White Supremacy.

“The late-night comedians…the unfunny people on TV shows, it’s always anti-religious.”

Albin Lohr-Jones/Zuma

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

After a gunman opened fire at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, killing 11 people and telling law enforcement officials that “all Jews must die,” much of the national discussion has been about the rise in anti-Semitic hate crimes since the election of Donald Trump. But on Monday morning, White House Counsel Kellyanne Conway shared a different theory about the nature and causes of the rampage that left an elderly Holocaust survivor dead: The alleged shooter, Robert Bowers, was not explicitly anti-Semitic; he was part of a culture in which late-night comedians make fun of people of faith.

“The anti-religiosity in this country that is somehow in vogue…and funny…to make fun of anybody of faith,” Conway said on Fox News on Monday morning. “The late-night comedians…the unfunny people on TV shows—it’s always anti-religious.”

Conway also compared the tragedy in Pittsburgh to the shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, that left nine black churchgoers dead. “Remember, these people were gunned down in their place of worship, as were the people in South Carolina several years ago,” she said. In 2015, Dylann Roof, a 21-year-old white supremacist went to Mother Emanuel AME Church and shot and killed nine people who were having a Bible study. He was subsequently charged with 33 federal hate crimes and sentenced to death in 2017.

The suspect in the Pittsburgh shooting, Robert Bowers, is facing 29 federal charges, some which carry the penalty of death. During the shootout on Saturday morning, Bowers allegedly told police officers “I just want to kill Jews” and that Jewish people were “committing genocide to my people.” The suspect was also active on Gab, a social media platform that bills itself as a “free speech” website to serve as a safe space for white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and other right-wing extremists to air their toxic views. On the site, Bowers posted conspiracy theories about Jewish people and complained that Donald Trump was too soft on the community. Just before he entered the synagogue, Bowers wrote “HIAS likes to bring invaders in that kill our people. I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.” 

Roof and Bowers held similar views. While Roof was awaiting trial, he wrote a diary revealing his motives that would later be read aloud to jurors at his trial. He ranted against Jews,  black people, Muslims, the LGBT community, and others. He showed no remorse for the innocents he slaughtered, but saved his pity for “the innocent white children forced to live in this sick country, and I do feel sorry for the innocent white people killed daily at the hands of the lower races.” In 2015, conservatives tried to spin the Charleston shooting as an attack on religion, ignoring the fact that white supremacists have long targeted black churches because they have historically been gathering places for community organizers and civil rights activists. 

Since Donald Trump became president, anti-Semitic attacks have been on the rise. The Anti-Defamation League identified 1,986 such incidents in 2017, up from 1,267 in 2016. Perhaps Conway is reviving this old talking point to distract from Donald Trump’s incendiary language, but as more information emerges about Bowers it becomes clearer that the real link between these two acts of unspeakable violence is not opposition to religious people; it’s white supremacy.

AN IMPORTANT UPDATE ON MOTHER JONES' FINANCES

We need to start being more upfront about how hard it is keeping a newsroom like Mother Jones afloat these days.

Because it is, and because we're fresh off finishing a fiscal year, on June 30, that came up a bit short of where we needed to be. And this next one simply has to be a year of growth—particularly for donations from online readers to help counter the brutal economics of journalism right now.

Straight up: We need this pitch, what you're reading right now, to start earning significantly more donations than normal. We need people who care enough about Mother Jones’ journalism to be reading a blurb like this to decide to pitch in and support it if you can right now.

Urgent, for sure. But it's not all doom and gloom!

Because over the challenging last year, and thanks to feedback from readers, we've started to see a better way to go about asking you to support our work: Level-headedly communicating the urgency of hitting our fundraising goals, being transparent about our finances, challenges, and opportunities, and explaining how being funded primarily by donations big and small, from ordinary (and extraordinary!) people like you, is the thing that lets us do the type of journalism you look to Mother Jones for—that is so very much needed right now.

And it's really been resonating with folks! Thankfully. Because corporations, powerful people with deep pockets, and market forces will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. Only people like you will.

There's more about our finances in "News Never Pays," or "It's Not a Crisis. This Is the New Normal," and we'll have details about the year ahead for you soon. But we already know this: The fundraising for our next deadline, $350,000 by the time September 30 rolls around, has to start now, and it has to be stronger than normal so that we don't fall behind and risk coming up short again.

Please consider pitching in before moving on to whatever it is you're about to do next. We really need to see if we'll be able to raise more with this real estate on a daily basis than we have been, so we're hoping to see a promising start.

—Monika Bauerlein, CEO, and Brian Hiatt, Online Membership Director

payment methods

AN IMPORTANT UPDATE ON MOTHER JONES' FINANCES

We need to start being more upfront about how hard it is keeping a newsroom like Mother Jones afloat these days.

Because it is, and because we're fresh off finishing a fiscal year, on June 30, that came up a bit short of where we needed to be. And this next one simply has to be a year of growth—particularly for donations from online readers to help counter the brutal economics of journalism right now.

Straight up: We need this pitch, what you're reading right now, to start earning significantly more donations than normal. We need people who care enough about Mother Jones’ journalism to be reading a blurb like this to decide to pitch in and support it if you can right now.

Urgent, for sure. But it's not all doom and gloom!

Because over the challenging last year, and thanks to feedback from readers, we've started to see a better way to go about asking you to support our work: Level-headedly communicating the urgency of hitting our fundraising goals, being transparent about our finances, challenges, and opportunities, and explaining how being funded primarily by donations big and small, from ordinary (and extraordinary!) people like you, is the thing that lets us do the type of journalism you look to Mother Jones for—that is so very much needed right now.

And it's really been resonating with folks! Thankfully. Because corporations, powerful people with deep pockets, and market forces will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. Only people like you will.

There's more about our finances in "News Never Pays," or "It's Not a Crisis. This Is the New Normal," and we'll have details about the year ahead for you soon. But we already know this: The fundraising for our next deadline, $350,000 by the time September 30 rolls around, has to start now, and it has to be stronger than normal so that we don't fall behind and risk coming up short again.

Please consider pitching in before moving on to whatever it is you're about to do next. We really need to see if we'll be able to raise more with this real estate on a daily basis than we have been, so we're hoping to see a promising start.

—Monika Bauerlein, CEO, and Brian Hiatt, Online Membership Director

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate