One day after Saturday's deadly massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, federal prosecutors announced their intention to pursue the death penalty against the killer. The president is on the same page. At a rally in Illinois, President Trump declared of murderous criminals, "They have to pay the ultimate price."
Both the president and prosecutors are entirely correct in their conclusion that in this case, capital punishment is both the lawfully and morally correct response to anti-Semitic hate and life-ending horror. In a society that should be based upon mutual respect for the lives of our fellow man no matter race, creed, or religion, there can be no other conclusion.
The death penalty is often seen as too harsh by Democrats and their ideological allies. Ending the life of a criminal who has taken one or more lives seems, to them, an abomination of the system. There is also the claim that capital punishment is unnecessarily cruel to the accused who may struggle through a painful, minutes-long, drug-induced death. In a similar vein, there is a segment of the pro-life movement that fully believes in a natural life to natural death approach. As someone who is vocally against abortion and fiercely protective of innocent life both in the womb and outside of it, I respect their position. However, they, like their leftist counterparts, are wrong.
[Jim Mattis: Pittsburgh synagogue shooter the 'poorest excuse for a man']
To be sure, when the crime of murder is committed, there must be caution. If the accused is shown to be suffering from a legitimate mental illness and is not just a coherent but hate-filled individual, ending their life by way of state-sanctioned death is inappropriate. These people should be given treatment for their sickness. In addition, in order for capital punishment to be administered, there must be no doubt whatsoever as to who is responsible for the violence. If any shred of uncertainty exists, the answer is lifelong imprisonment. The existence of wrongful convictions where innocent men and women are locked up should cause us to pause unless there is absolute certitude.
In the case of 46-year-old Robert Bowers, who killed 11 innocent people assembled at a house of worship on Saturday, none of the factors above is an issue. There is no question of guilt; he is the one who pulled the trigger. As far as motive, he has a documented online history of hate against Jews:
Bowers, who reportedly worked as a long-haul trucker, has been linked to a rash of virulent anti-Semitic posts on social media, including one shortly before the attack that described Jews as "invaders" and said "I can't sit by and watch my people get slaughtered." The criminal complaint said Bowers told a SWAT agent that "he wanted all Jews to die."
The anger in Bowers' heart persisted until he felt the need to act out his fantasies. This isn't mental illness; this is pure hate. And for these crimes, I believe the criminal has lost his right to live.
Some may argue that for the death penalty to be useful, it must act as a deterrent to potential criminals. While that is the desired effect, capital punishment is appropriate whether this repercussion exists or not.
Thankfully, most of our fellow Americans reacted with sadness and anger at the cold-blooded murders that took place in the Squirrel Hill community of Pittsburgh. We should agree that the slaughter constitutes nothing less than a case of domestic terrorism by a monster who carried an immense amount of rage within his heart.
Because of the motive and obvious clarity of thought, the death penalty must be the answer to this crime. Though this may be an uncomfortable conclusion, it is the only proper response by a just society to the continual hate we see before us.
Kimberly Ross (@SouthernKeeks) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog and a senior contributor at RedState.com.