The Nazi who killed 11 in a mass shooting at Pittsburgh's Tree of Life synagogue will be executed for his crimes.
The same federal jury that convicted the 50-year-old Bowers on 63 criminal counts recommended that he be put to death for an attack whose impacts continue to reverberate nearly five years later. He showed little reaction as the sentence was announced, briefly acknowledging his legal team and family as he was led from the courtroom. A judge will formally impose the sentence Thursday. Jurors were unanimous in finding that Bowers' attack was motivated by his hatred of Jews, and that he chose Tree of Life for its location in one the largest and most historic Jewish communities in the U.S. so that he could "maximize the devastation, amplify the harm of his crimes, and instill fear within the local, national, and international Jewish communities." They also found that Bowers lacked remorse.
Rabbi Jeffrey Myers: "I don't believe in coincidences. Today we received an immense embrace from the halls of justice."
Meanwhile, the GOP's Nazi problem has deep roots. Staff and surrogates of Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis actively court the far right, and the candidates themselves refuse to reject it.
The mounting evidence that many prominent Republican politicians, including a former president, either have Nazi ties or are courting the Nazi vote is unsettling. Frequently, this fact leads to some form of denial or excuse-making—such as the claim that young Republicans are "too online" or just engaging in the familiar puerile prank of adopting rhetoric designed to shock liberals.
There is a smidgen of truth to this argument. Shock Jock mockery and malicious frat boy bigotry are familiar styles of right-wing comedy—a tradition that runs from The American Spectator to Rush Limbaugh to Donald Trump.
But this cruel comedy isn't just about lolz; it's also a political strategy. As centrist pundit Jonathan Chait cogently observed, the DeSantis campaign made a conscious decision "to woo the extreme right." That's why it hired Hochman, a rising star on the right, "after it was reported he had participated in a Twitter Spaces with Nick Fuentes." Chait describes a telling incident in 2022 when "a small band of Nazis menaced Jewish students in Orlando." While Florida Republicans denounced the incident, DeSantis spokesperson Christine Pushaw claimed that the incident was faked by Democrats. DeSantis himself accused the media of trying to smear him. Chait argues, "The point of this political theater was not merely to display dominance against the media. It was to signal tribal solidarity with right-wing allies, by demonstrating DeSantis would not renounce them."