This past Sunday Kansas City and the nation saw another needless outpouring of hate…
When Frazier Glenn Cross – a white supremacist from Aurora, MO – shot and killed three people, one at Village Shalom, a Jewish run nursing home, and two in the parking lot of the Jewish Community Center a few blocks away..
Most of us have moments in our lives when we reexamine or change previously held fundamental tenets of faith or our belief system – interracial marriage, homosexuality, religious viewpoints and any number of other social norms that evolves with time.
No such nuance existed in Cross.
He’s held fast to his beliefs for decades and it’s a pretty safe bet what was on his mind when he got in his car and made the three hour drive to his own personal killing fields. Seems Cross has had basically but one motivation his entire life, that of racial and religious bigotry. Clearly, he’s no garden variety disgruntled man, merely testy about a few things that rubbed him the wrong way.
No, there simply was no room in Cross’ world for blacks, Jews, “mud people,” or anyone that was not white or didn’t see the world through his horribly clouded vision.
Cross dropped out of high school and joined the military but was discharged for propagating hatred there. He started the White Patriot Party, the North Carolina KKK and unsuccessfully ran for political office a few times – always on the same platform – hate.
So we’re left to assume one of two things as he made his drive to Kansas City.
Either that he was so ignorant in his myopic world view that he assumed anyone in the nursing home was Jewish and anyone at the JCC for any reason was Jewish. Or else perhaps that he followed the Westboro Baptist Church philosophy of guilt by association.
Meaning, if you were there, you were either a Jew or a Jew lover – either way – worthy of killing. With that mindset and his gun drawn, Cross proceeded to ask his potential victims at Village Shalom if they were Jewish. Unfortunately at JCC there was apparently a lot less talking and a lot more shooting.
Let’s look at the outcome of his actions.
Two of his victims were a grandfather – retired doctor William Corporon and his grandson, 14 year old Reat Underwood – who were at the JCC for a talent show audition.
“Corporon cherished his family, and more than anything had a passion for caring for others.”
Reat was high school freshman who “participated in debate, theater and had a beautiful voice, a passion for life and touched so many people in his young age,” his family said.
Corporon was always in the company of one of his 10 grandkids, moving from his practice from Oklahoma to be closer to his family. A man characterized by unbridled love and giving.
Terri LaManno, 53, was making her weekly visit to see her mom at Village Shalom.
LaManno and her husband Jim planned to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary two days later. Her daughter released a statement that said, “My mom was a beautiful soul. She always thought of everyone before herself. The world needs more people like her. She was the best mother, wife, sister and friend that anyone could have.”
So in his zeal to kill Jews, Cross got two Methodists and a Catholic.
And what’s left in the aftermath of his hate is an outpouring of love for those he killed – good and decent people being honored by family and community.
Hate has many partners, and, as might be expected, the Westboro Baptist Church announced earlier in the week they would protest the funerals.
And how was that met by the community?
Adam Hamilton, the Pastor of the Church of the Resurrection where the funeral for Corporon and his grandson will be held, posted on his Facebook page, “You’ve likely heard that Westboro Baptist Church will be demonstrating across the street. Please ignore them. They love publicity and hate to be ignored. Their greatest disappointment comes when no media report on them, no people acknowledge them, and no one replies to their tweets or FB posts. Pray for them.”
Cross’s acts do not a pretty Easter picture.
Yet as I watched him rolled by wheelchair into the video room, clad in his suicide smock, I was reminded that the picture of evil in this man will not win. In honor of the wonderful lives he took from their loved ones, we owe something in their memory.
We can’t pledge this will never happen again – we know all too well it will.
However we can promise to wipe out hate in our own hearts and carry a message of love to all we meet daily.
We owe it to the victims.