Op-Ed: What Happened in Kansas City Can Happen in Brooklyn
Paula R. SternPaula R. Stern is the Founder and Documentation Manager of WritePoint,...
Hours before the Passover holiday began, Kansas City faced a tragedy - and a challenge. A sick, demented, hate-filled, ignorant man named Frazier Glenn Miller opened fire at two Jewish centers and murdered three people.
The incredible irony, of course, is that in attempting to murder Jews, he ended up murdering 3 Christians, including an elderly woman and a teenage boy.
The mayor of Marionville, from which Miller apparently crawled, is as hate-filled, demented, ignorant and sick as he was, and I would add, seems incredibly stupid and politically naive. He was interviewed and took the opportunity, his 15 minutes of fame as mayor of a tiny town of 2,200 people (of which 20% live in poverty, is apparently 96% white,and in ten years, increased its total population by all of 12 people), to ensure that he looked like a fool.
He proudly explained that he had known the murderer for many years and that as long as the people who came in contact with Frazier Glenn Miller were of the same color (and apparently religion), honestly, everything was fine.
In an interview with a local media outlet (KSPR), Mayor Dan Clevenger said:
"He was always nice and friendly and respectful of elder people, you know, he respected his elders greatly. As long as they were the same color as him. [He was] very fair and honest and never had a bit of problems out of him."
Fair and honest...so long as you weren't a Jew, a black, Hispanic, or anything that wasn't white, white, white.
The mayor added that he:
"...kind of agreed with [Miller] on some things but I don't like to express that too much. There some things that are going on in this country that are destroying us. We've got a false economy and...some of those corporations are run by Jews because the names are there. The fact that the Federal Reserve prints up phony money and freely hands it out, I think that's completely wrong. The people that run the Federal Reserve, they're Jewish."
And therein lies the challenge to Kansas City, Marionville, America, and the Jews who live there.
My first comment is that if this mayor is not forced to resign, Marionville and Missouri should be ashamed. If this idiot is re-elected, the town itself should bear the brunt of its misguided choice. And if you live close by, don't go there, don't buy anything there. Don't fill your tank with gas there; don't even buy a bottle of water there.
Fire Clevenger if you can, Marionville, before your entire town is labeled by the killer and the mayor who have put you on the map.
America, search out the leaders among you. Make sure they represent the best and not the worst. Across the political divide, condemn not only the murderer but the mayor who "kind of" agrees with this.
And Jews of America - learn something from history. It is so easy to wash this away, to dismiss this man, this mayor, perhaps even this town. No good follows such naivete. These are the lies that Hitler told the Germans - that Jews rule the world and are the root of all evil. We can forgive the mistakes of many German Jews back in the 1930s. I mean, who in their right mind could believe that man could be evil enough to build gas chambers, right? Systematically hunt down and exterminate an entire people? No way - the world would never allow it, right?
Well, now we know. Because too often, the world is filled with Clevengers who look at a hate-filled man and see not the potential for murder, but respect for his white elders. People who will excuse the greater evil for the current status...until it explodes in their faces.
This time, it was three innocent Christians who paid the price. It could easily have been a dozen - Jews and Christians. No one was safe from Miller's gun and no one is safe from Clevenger's racism.
Marionville will live up to the challenge or not. At some point in the future, if the media wills it, there will be a short article saying he resigned, was defeated, or was re-elected. But there are hundreds, perhaps thousands and even tens of thousands of other Marionville's in the United States and around the world.
A city in the Ukraine has ordered its Jews to register and list their property or face deportation.
From the safety and everyday peace that is part of life in Israel, I can tell you that I don't understand. Aliyah isn't easy - I know because I did it. And I did it 20 years ago without Nefesh b'Nefesh, an amazing organization that will help you build a bridge and even walk across an ocean.
Is aliyah the answer? It is. There are no Millers here, no Clevengers either. What in God's name keeps you there?
Do you think you are too young or too old to come? Infants have been brought by their parents, great grandparents have come to be with their children, their grandchildren.
Language? Most people speak English. Somewhere, someone will help you. It's great if you know Hebrew, but if you don't - there are millions who speak Russian and English, tens of thousands who speak French and Spanish. The Jews have come home from Arab lands and aliyah from France is rising rapidly.
Missouri is a lesson - more than Miller. Look at Clevenger. They don't even realize there is something wrong with what was said. No, Jews don't rule the world; don't run the US economy (it would likely be in better shape if we did); and we don't drink Christian blood either.
I don't expect much from Marionville.
I expected more from Missouri, the birthplace of Harry S. Truman, who recognized the Jewish State of Israel a mere eleven minutes after it was declared on May 14, 1948.
As for America - I think the tide has been turning for some time. We have many supporters; many who love Israel and will stand by the Jewish people because they respect who and what we are, because they carry a love of Israel as the Holy Land, but there are those who hate us and carry the hatred of centuries within them, as we carry our past within ourselves.
And finally, to my fellow Jews in America - what can I say that I haven't already said? What words would convince you, sway you, move you to come here, to visit, to live.
When you cannot proudly display a Jewish star or an Israeli flag for fear, when you have to protect your synagogues and Jewish schools, what is the purpose of your life there? When a man opens fire to kill you and his mayor calls him "nice and friendly," what more do you need to convince you that where you were born is not where you should live.
They don't want you there, and we do want you here. My grandfather went to America because there was no Israel that was safe for him; the British had blocked immigration and so he left his family in Poland and went to America. My grandfather went to America seeking freedom and a good life, but never forgot he was a Jew.
We were a typical American Jewish family - ranging from Reform to Conservative until I broke away and became Orthodox - the only one of nine.
Four out of his nine grandchildren have married non-Jews; one openly practices as a Christian and despises everything related to the heritage she renounced. Do you think, for one minute, that my grandfather wanted them to live the lives they live today? Do you think he would have approved of whom they married and the President many of them all but worship?
His grandchildren are raising fifteen great-grandchildren as Jews and one carries his name, Meir. Eight of the fifteen are Israelis because two of his granddaughters came to live in Israel. So far, four out of four of their children have married Jews.
Here in Israel, four out of five of my grandfather's great-grandsons have served in the IDF and the last will be enlisting soon enough. Two of his three great granddaughters have already served this nation - one in the army and one in national service, and the last will serve soon enough.
Each and every one of my grandfather's eight Israeli great-grandchildren live their lives as Jews, proud and strong. They stand upright and wonder at the logic of staying in a land other than their own.
These are the statistics of American Jewry - confirmed by Pew reports; it is the truth we all know.
If this can happen in Kansas City, it can happen in Brooklyn. And next time, I doubt the Jewish community will escape the murderer's bullets or the mayor's latent anti-Semitism.