Kansas Gunman Unfortunately Nothing New

April 17, 2014
BY Joshua Runyan

runyan_josh_otAny doubts as to the danger of anti-Semitism in the United States were unfortunately put to rest this week when a gunman’s bullets — smack dab in the middle of middle America — claimed the lives of three people at Jewish institutions in Overland Park, Kan.

We now know that the 73-year-old man from Aurora, Mo., police suspect of driving to the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City before opening fire on a man and his grandson — and two others who were not injured — and then at an elderly woman at the Village Shalom retirement community nearby is something of a throwback to another era. What is believed to be his website paints a portrait of a rabid racist and anti-Semite, while the Southern Poverty Law Center said that in the 1980s, Frazier Glenn Miller was the “grand dragon” of the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan; he reportedly later founded the White Patriot Party.

What Miller and his ilk advocate is not racial purity, as if such a thing were ever possible or much less desirable. No. What the shooter in Kansas instead stands for is the violent affirmation of such debunked “theories” as eugenics and racial superiority. People like him claim order as their rallying cry, but wish instead that anarchy prevailed. They have no place in a civilized society, much less one founded upon the ideals of life, liberty and the innate power of the individual.

That the Frazier Glenn Millers of the world have supported and perpetrated vast genocides, including the Holocaust, is nothing new. And as you’ll read in this week’s JT, today’s generation grapples with how exactly to transmit the collective memories of those who suffered through and survived the Shoah so many years ago.

What is sobering is that the Frazier Glenn Millers of the world not only continue to exist, but that many of them stand armed and ready to advance a worldview with hatred as its creed and bloodshed as its method. That two of the victims in last Sunday’s attack happened to be Christian makes no difference, for in the twisted minds of those who would open fire at a JCC and retirement center, anyone who doesn’t think like them might as well be Jewish. It’s the same baseless hatred that turned southern cities into killing zones and claimed the lives of civil rights workers in the 50s and 60s, the same vile, repugnant thought process that justified the Holocaust.

The question left for us is what to do about it. Confronting hatred takes courage and determination; it also takes love. The more the racists and bigots of the world teach their children to hate, the more we should teach them to embrace the beauty of mankind. The more they blame others for their lot in life, the more we should reach out to improve the lot of those around us. The more they wall themselves apart, the more we should bring people in.

The Jewish community in Kansas will recover, but none of us should think that normalcy has been reached until hatred is eradicated from our midst.

jrunyan@jewishtimes.com

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