Sen. Mastriano must explain why he is paying an anti-Semitic social media site to promote campaign.
By ALAN GUENTHER
In these turbulent times, at least we can all agree that anti-Semitism is wrong. Surely, we can agree that it’s wrong to post comments that encourage hatred of Jews, such as the posts made on the Gab Social media platform by Robert Bowers, who is charged with killing 11 people, and wounding six others, at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh on Oct. 27, 2018.
That’s why our Peace Is Possible Coalition was shocked to learn that Doug Mastriano, the Republican candidate for governor, paid $5,000 to Gab Social to help promote his campaign, according to a July 13 article published by local radio news station WESA-FM.
Spotlight PA, a respected news media platform, also reported the $5,000 “campaign consulting” fee and said that whenever anyone joins the Gab Social website, they are automatically assigned to follow Mastriano’s campaign, which as a result has gained thousands of followers.
Mr. Andrew Torba, Gab Social’s founder and chief operating officer, has endorsed Sen. Mastriano, who has accepted and embraced the endorsement.
Dan Leger, who spent eight weeks in the hospital recovering from his wounds during the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue, told us he believes Sen. Mastriano’s affiliation with a site that hosts hate speech disqualifies him as a candidate for governor.
“I feel that a number of things disqualify him from being a candidate for governor,” said Mr. Leger, a 74-year-old former nurse and chaplain. “It's simply in bad taste for anyone who's running for an office as prominent as governor of the state to align themselves with a platform like that.”
“It shows the kind of judgment he possesses,” Mr. Leger said.
Sen. Mastriano has posted 66 times on Gab since he joined it in February, WESA reported. A recent post on July 9 — a criticism of Democratic economic policies — received 157 comments. At least two dozen of those responses — the most common response by far — were anti-Semitic insults about state Attorney General Josh Shapiro, the Democratic candidate for governor. Mr. Shapiro is Jewish.
Mr. Torba has openly promoted white nationalist content and conspiracies on his Gab platform, according to a July 8 story in the New York Times. After the recent mass shooting in Buffalo where a gunman targeted Black shoppers at a supermarket, Mr. Torba encouraged Gab members to marry and have babies only with other white people.
In response to the Buffalo shooting and other shootings in Pittsburgh, our group held a “No Place for Hate” rally and vigil in the First United Methodist Church in Pittsburgh. Today, we ask, why would Sen. Mastriano’s campaign pay $5,000 to a site like Gab, given its tawdry history and its ongoing promotion of hate speech?
Members of his own party, such as former Republican Sen. Robert Jubelier, have said Sen. Mastriano is too extreme to lead Pennsylvania as governor. Jubelier and a group of prominent Pennsylvania Republicans announced earlier this month that they are supporting the Democrat Shapiro.
Consider this: As a leading promoter of Donald Trump’s “stolen election” lies, Sen. Mastriano would appoint the Pennsylvania Secretary of State who would oversee the integrity of our elections. Do you feel comfortable with an “election denier” appointing the person who would count our votes?
A May 9, 2021 New Yorker magazine profile said Sen. Mastriano is a leader in the Christian nationalist movement. He has sponsored legislation to mandate teaching the Bible in public schools and allowing adoption agencies to discriminate against same sex couples.
As members of the Peace Is Possible Coalition, our group of faith-based and community leaders first came together last October when Jim Rogers, a Black homeless man, died after he was tased eight times by Pittsburgh police.
Since then, we’ve stayed together. The Peace Is Possible Coalition welcomes people from all walks of life, no matter what their religious views are. We’d like to stay out of politics, but we feel that, in Sen. Mastriano’s case, we need to speak out.
We are asking that, when you go to the polls in November, please make an informed choice. As survivors of the Tree of Life shooting will tell you, hate speech can have deadly consequences. Your vote is important. Use it wisely.
Alan Guenther is a member of the Peace Is Possible Coalition, which includes volunteer members of faith-based and community organizations working for positive change in Pittsburgh.