By Denzil McDaniel 

Rose Mallinger, a 97-year-old American woman much loved by everyone who knew her, headed to church last weekend. She did so every Sabbath, and as a person of the Jewish faith she was in the congregation of the Tree of Life in her home city of Pittsburgh last Saturday.

Suddenly, a gunman burst in shouting “All Jews must die” and he opened fire with an automatic AR-15, the weapon of choice of mass killers in the United States.

Rose lay dead, as did 10 other worshippers.

The President of that great country, Donald Trump immediately condemned the killings. But some of his other behaviour the same day is very telling. Firstly, he appeared at a pre-organised rally later in the evening and made some light-hearted remark about considering cancelling it; not because of the mass murder but because he was having a bad hair day due to being caught out in the rain.

Ha ha. Well, maybe not the greatest crime of the century, but such tasteless insensitivity certainly shows up the narcissistic, self-obssessed nature of this president.

Then he suggests that the best way of dealing with incidents like this is to have people inside the church armed so they could repel their attacker. Again, this is hardly surprising in view of Trump’s response to every sickening mass killing event is to back the “right to bear arms” and he promised the gun lobby that he’ll never infringe that right.

So, after previously suggesting teachers should have guns strapped to themselves to counter some madman trying to slaughter children, he now wants churches to become military defenders of 97-year-old people saying their prayers.

To us, this is crazy, but do not get the idea that all Americans are silent as the country slips into the abyss of a real life Quentin Tarantino movie.

Bill Clinton tweeted that he mourned the victims and added: “We must all send an unequivocal message that the violence and hatred that has been unleashed and fanned across America will not be tolerated.”

Respected broadcaster Dan Rather said: “The focus should not be only on Trump, but all who excuse, abet, or stand in silence while hate is stoked for political gain.”

And the leader of the Islamic Centre in Pittsburgh announced that the Muslim community has raised more than 70,000 dollars for the synagogue victims and their families. Muslims said they were there for Jews and would even stand guard to protect them.

Interesting, isn’t it, that the people who show their distaste for hatred and violence come from political opponents, journalists and Muslims – three of the very groups targeted by Trump in his very deliberate stirring up of strife in America.

And not only does fear stalk the land, his brand of rhetoric is working politically. He thrives on controversy and the crude use of instilling fear of minorities and opponents is a dark art which appeals to a large constituency in the United States. People who fear others in this way have a herd instinct which Trump uses cynically.

It is no coincidence that a couple of weeks out from the American midterm elections, Trump is hardening his line on immigration by sending thousands of troops to the Border with Mexico as thousands of central Americans head for the US. Well, it worked before with the promise of building a wall and making Mexico pay for it, and it’s alarming that Trump’s popularity ratings continue to be healthy.

In this Trump era, division, hatred and fear appear to us to be worryingly rife in America.

Yet let us not run away with the idea that it is “only in America”. Worldwide, conflict and strife are being manipulated by people to seize power by people appealing to people’s basic instincts of looking for safety for themselves at the expense of a society which cares and shows compassion for targeted minorities.

Brazil is the latest where presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro succeeded by showing his distaste for the gay community, feminism and even the rule of law. It’s been the same in a number of European countries where anger and polarisation have seen a shift to the right.

Bad enough in Britain that racism levels are stoked by certain newspapers and politicians, but to see the odious Tommy Robinson feted as a hero in some quarters in truly worrying.

And we’re not immune from it. In Ireland’s presidential election, Peter Casey was only a percentage or two in the polls when he spoke controversially about his views on Travellers being housed in Tipperary. Despite being branded a racist, he got the attention, then criticised the welfare system. Bingo, he polled over 20 per cent.

North of the Border, we know only too well the politics of hated and division. We had plenty of reasons to be fearful. There were graphic reminders of where it can all lead; I was struck by the comments this week by a paramedic recalling entering the scene of the awful atrocity at the Rising Sun bar in Greysteel when he saw people lying, literally in pools of blood. This was in retaliation for the Shankill bomb a week earlier, heartrending accounts of which we heard last week.

Whether it’s Pittsburgh in 2018 or Northern Ireland in 1993 and in many other years, or numerous other places throughout history, hatred and division often end in the blood of innocent people being spilled.

Far from people like Trump cooling the emotions of fear and bitterness, too many people allow their selfishness, suspicion and mistrust of people different to them to set the agenda.

It’s a depressing world. What sort of world would you prefer? One where hatred and fear rule, or one of compassion, kindness and tenderness?

Some people in America do speak out in favour of those less fortunate. At a recent meeting, the Attorney General Jeff Sessions was speaking at an event when a Methodist Minister shouted from the audience, quoting from the Bible.

“I was hungry and you did not feed me. I was a stranger and you did not welcome me. I was naked and you did not clothe me,” Pastor Will Green said. “Brother Jeff, as a fellow United Methodist I call upon you to repent, to care for those in need, to remember that when you do not care for others, you are wounding the body of Christ.”

The pastor was then escorted from the room. Another pastor, identified as Darrell Hamilton of First Baptist Church of Boston, also addressed Sessions and was escorted out.

Some people don’t want to hear the truth, but Trump can spew out his nonsense and still accuse the media of being unfair to him.

Good will prevail, surely?