It’s a tragic shame that someone can be so filled with hatred that even at age 73 he can coldly take the lives of three innocent people.
This 73-year-old is an Aurora, Mo., racist named Frazier Glenn Cross who is said to be better known as Frazier Glenn Miller. On Sunday, authorities say, he killed two people — a retired doctor and his grandson — at a Jewish community center in Overland Park and then went to a nearby Jewish retirement facility and killed an elderly woman.
If he was driven by anti-Semitism, he might rue his choice of targets. The two individuals he killed at the community center attended were Christians and were at the community center for a function unrelated to faith.
Although police, still early in their investigation, are reluctant to call this episode a hate crime, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not as constrained. “We are condemning the murder which, according to all signs, was committed because of hatred of Jews. The state of Israel, together with all civilized peoples, is committed to fighting against this plague.”
Mr. Cross’s background hardly suggests the killing sites were chosen at random. A lifelong white supremacist, he founded the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and was the organization’s “grand dragon” in the 1980s. He later founded another white supremacist group, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which keeps track of such organizations.
Mr. Cross didn’t just hold Jews and blacks in contempt, he had a strong anti-government streak and ran a paramilitary camp in North Carolina. When it was raided, officials found a small arsenal — automatic weapons, hand grenades and thousands of rounds of ammunition — plus almost $15,000 in cash.
Michael Siegal, who is chair of the Jewish Federations of North America, struck a poignant chord in an email to the Associated Press on the killings, which occurred on the eve of the Jewish festival of Passover. He said, “No community should have to face a moment such as this one… we are left to contemplate how we must continue our work building a world in which all people are free to live their lives without the threat of terror.”
That terror, as we’ve been too often reminded, comes in many forms and inevitably strikes at the innocent and the defenseless.
The challenges for “civilized peoples” are finding what it is that makes people — individuals or groups, those who are mentally ill and those who are not — capable of doing such harm, and then preventing it. Those are monumental challenges indeed.