By Jason Stverak
As Christians observed Palm Sunday, marking the beginning of Holy Week and Jews finished removing the chametz (leavened foods) from their homes in preparation for Passover, hate was rearing its ugly head in Americas heartland.
Frazier Glenn Cross, who also uses the last name of Miller, a former grand dragon of the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, allegedly approached two Jewish facilities, reportedly with multiple firearms, presumably looking to kill Jews.
Three dead later, including a 14-year-old boy, the apparent assailant, identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a known anti-Semite, yelled “Heil Hitler” toward media cameras as police took him into custody.
Like millions of Americans, I learned of what had unfolded in the Heartland after returning from church. That spiritual feeling of fulfillment and hope that so many people of faith feel after leaving their house of worship, immediately turned into concern and, dare I say, anger, after hearing about this act of terror and the victims. But even more so is where it happened.
The Overland Park Jewish Community Center is “a local treasure — a place where all faiths are welcomed,” explained the Kansas City Star on its editorial page.
On this particular morning, the center was just that. Teenagers from across Kansas City metropolitan-area where gathering to audition for the KC Star singing contests, and actors were rehearsing for a production of “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
But in the mind of a hatemonger such as Cross, he just saw the name of one religion on the door. He can’t comprehend that people of all faiths can live together — raise our children in the same community.
The first two victims of Cross’s suspected brutality, William Lewis Corporon and his 14-year-old grandson, Reat Griffin Underwood, define that community spirit. They belonged to a Methodist church, but played and lived side-by-side with their Jewish brothers and sisters.
That is why when they attack one of us they attack all of us.
“Hate” is the most dangerous of words. While there is no doubt that different levels of bigotry exist, the one common trait is that they all show a disregard for a group of people. Ultimately, such disdain leads to a path of pain and suffering.
Day-in and day-out, the world demonstrates that the lessons of the Holocaust have been forgotten. I’m not sure they actually were ever learned. Jews remain the world’s scapegoat.
Twelve-hundred miles away from the horrors in Overland Park, the United Nations, in New York City, the world body that is supposed to lead the fight against hate and suffering, advocates the scapegoating of Jews by condemning the Jewish state of Israel at the drop of hat, while ignoring the atrocities committed by some of the world’s most oppressive regimes.
According to the international nonprofit group, StandWithUs, between 2006 – 2013, the UN passed 45 “condemnatory resolutions” against the Jewish state, while during the same time frame, issued a total of 18 against the 16 states labeled the “the worst of the worst” human rights abusers by the human rights watchdog group Freedom House.
“The United Nations year-after-year sends a message to the world that Jews are evil,” said StandWithUs Midwest Community Coordinator Peggy Shapiro. “It’s difficult to combat anti-Semitism and stop the creation of more Frazier Glenn Cross’s throughout the world, when the world governing body provides excuses for his behavior.”
Nobody knows Cross’s personal story and why he has some much contempt for the Jewish people. His history with the KKK and neo Nazi groups concludes that he has hate in his heart for those different than he. One thing is for certain, people are not born with disdain. It is most often taught by family or peers.
That is why America can’t ignore the anti-Semitic activity brewing on college campuses under the disguise of the Boycott — Divestment — Sanctions movement and various other “human rights” groups that single out the Jewish state, while ignoring true crimes against humanity perpetrated by Iran, Saudi Arabia and countless other oppressive regimes.
As an American, I’m angry that these acts of violence – level of hate – still exists in our country. But as a Christian, I am saddened — sickened — that every day human beings show so many disregards for our fellow man.
As Christians remember the resurrection of Jesus and Jews celebrate their Exodus from bondage, I’m reminded of our common Judeo-Christian values and the love expressed by so many of our communities toward each other as we live and raise our families together as one.
Now that is a value we should pray everyone will one day share.
Jason Stverak is president of the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity.