There has been a shooting yesterday at two Jewish Centers in the Kansas City area. The CNN News report can be accessed here. My condolences to all those whose celebration of Passover was disturbed by the murder of three persons at Jewish Centers in the Kansas City region. I most offer my condolences to the family and congregations with whom I have no direct contact. Dr. William Lewis Corporon and his grandson Eagle Scout Reat Griffin Underwood were shot at a center where many types of social activity occurred and an elderly woman was killed at an assisted living facility. It is sad that this occasion of Holy Week and Palm Sunday serves as an excuse for someone associating his likely Christian Identity with bloodying an occasion of worship or assembly. I will probably get another blog post mention up on this subject eventually. But I wanted to get something up no later than today or tonight.
First UPDATE April 15, 2014: Most of the statements in this post seem to be correct. For a different coverage of the event in brief check here. One detail that merges clearly is that whether or not the victims had any Hebrew heritage or cultural ties the males were Methodist Protestant Christians and the woman was not elderly nor Jewish but was visiting her elderly mother at a Jewish assisted living facility. She was a practicing Catholic Christian. Instead of celebrating Easter these two families will be celebrating Good Friday funerals. Also Miller had legally changed his name to Cross it seems. He was certainly a serious and organized man and it is not clear if he intended to kill Jews or perhaps Christians who associated with Jews in a certain way. He also has been charged with a Hate Crime.
There is still a lot to be determined about the man who did the shooting. Some of it can be read here. He founded whatever group he was in and has moved in the shadows. What distance there is between him and all the stabbers, shooters and bombers in our midst these days is hard to say. What is true is that neither his underlying fears nor those of his victims appear to have much to do with the discourse in Washington. Is every stabber, bomber and shooter just a crazed loner or failed conspirator? I do not know what labels like that accomplish but he is much like many others. Partly because not much is allowed which really represents the human need for community in this supposedly free society. perhaps he envied what he thought others had and killed them for it. But my guess is that those sites he attacked were not bastions of special identity woven and accepted into a national fabric. I guess that because that scarcely exists. Seldom does a week pass when some one does not opt to go out in an cloud of blood and violence decrying what they feel to be a desperate situation. But Miller is not excusable nor is he just another blip. This is another seriously concerning sign of where things are.
It is also relevant that the shooter is believed to have been a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan and also to have been yelling “Heil Hitler” those have not always been related institutional connections. the shooter who changed the use of his last name from Miller to Cross did not attack a house of worship or sacred study directly and seems to have been motivated by a generic antisemitism. His concerns and animosities led him to murder people who later or earlier that day may have been assembling for a holiday Jesus celebrated. His own story is little known to me and I will be looking at that as well. One fact about all institutions which are to some degree outlawed or enjoined is that it becomes more difficult for them to discipline their members. On the other hand, I would not want Al Qaeda to have an open office in the USA. But as we look at so much violence across the country we have to wonder about those we push out of discussion. I also lay some responsibility for these connections on those who foster antisemitic attitudes among people like the shooter. Dr. David Duke who toned his rhetoric to the innocuous when he ran for governor of my State of Louisiana operates in complete focus on promoting antisemitic ideas now. Morris Dees and the Southern Poverty Law Center and its associated Klanwatch are Jewish related organizations which have opposed the Klan for decades. Doubtless this has helped antagonize the David Dukes and G F Millers of the world. But I am not a centrist nor do I espouse surrender to any integrating force that comes along in America or anywhere. Therefore I hope to challenge those who may have a voice in allegedly white supremacist organizations to condemn acts like these among their associates, publicly and in whatever institutional forms may survive. This is murder not struggle for any ideal, heritage or politics according to all the evidence I have seen.
I have just returned from finishing my Lenten commitment to Nursing Home Ministry. My sister Sarah Summers Granger, her children, my brother Simon, my father and others were there. It is sad to think of someone bringing bloodshed to a similar place at this time. Holy Week continues on around the world as does Passover. I am a Christian and as a Christian I hold both Sacred. Things are getting worse for Christians in the country where the name Christian was first used — Syria. In the land to which Jesus and his family traveled, Egypt and in other lands as well. But somehow in twisted cowardice, delusion and hate mixed with the real tensions between Christians and Jews and the real frustrations of our time a man finds a perceived need to murder Jews living their lives in their community among the still Christian majority in the United States. There is no moral imperative which says everyone has to be happy to be with everyone else all the time. That is the madness which is promulgated in this declining country. But murdering those who are different or singling out Israel in a world of Christian murdering and West-hating Islamists is inexcusable, stupid and pathetic. Former Klan leader David Duke has devoted himself to that path. I voted for Edwards against Duke during the race when most White Louisiana citizens voted for him (many did not). I have corresponded with him briefly and we both studied part of our careers in the same university department.
Doubtless Miller has something to do in our minds with the Tsarnaev brothers anniversary of killing, the stabber in Pennsylvania the birthday of Guy Fawkes and the many other violent figures in our minds. But his crime is his own. It is a warning but it is an individual act of murder too.