By Chelsea Galvez |Staff Writer|
A shooting that left three dead at two Jewish centers in Overland Park, Kansas, has caused many to reevaluate the realities of prejudice and racism in the United States.
On Sunday, April 13, 2014, Frazier Glen Cross shot and killed Dr. William Lewis Corporon, 69, and his 14 year old grandson in the parking lot of the Kansas Jewish Community Center.
Corporon and his grandson were on their way to a talent contest when Cross open fired on the two while yelling, “Heil Hitler,” said authorities.
None of those killed were Jewish.
Immediately after the attack, Police said Cross proceeded to the Village Shalom senior living facility, where he open fired and killed Terri LeManno, who was visiting her mother.
An investigation revealed that Cross is an avid white supremacist and isn’t shy about expressing his beliefs.
“Cross is a raging anti-Semite who has posted extensively in online forums that advocate exterminating Jews,” said the Southern Poverty Law Center, according to CNN.
Cross continued to shout anti-Semitic slurs upon his arrest, according to police.
“I believe there is only one race – the human race. For people that see things according to race – racism is antipathy and a bias toward a person or group based on preconceived notions usually based on skin color,” said Dr. Timothy Pytell, a professor in the CSUSB social science department.
Many feel as though racism and prejudice are ideas of the past. However, current events such as these have caused many students to rethink their assumptions about prejudice and racism.
“These hate crimes remind me that racism and prejudice still exist today and that there are people out there who will act out because of it. It’s unfortunate,” said student Brittney Carollo.
According to Pytell, anti-Semitism is not a race issue but a religious issue that gets put into the same category as racism.
“Hitler made the Jews into a race. Orthodox Jews may see themselves as a race – but the vast majority of Jews don’t see themselves that way nor are they a race. Anyone can be or become Jewish. It is a religion,” Pytell continued.
Although the three that were gunned down were not Jewish, the setting of the act suggests Cross’s intention, of carrying out actions similar to those committed by Adolf Hitler.
“He didn’t kill any Jews – he killed randomly but based on the place he killed, it appears he wanted to kill Jews. But like Hitler his actions were a profoundly destructive fantasy,” said Pytell.
Hate crimes occur on a daily basis and leave many to wonder if there will be a time when society will embrace a post-racial world.
“I think America is slowly moving toward a post-racist society. Overcoming all forms of xenophobia takes time – but on the other hand most humans are hard wired psychologically to ‘other’ and thus hate. So a purely post racial world is a utopia and not of this world,” Pytell continued.
Although the ideas of racism and prejudice peak after hate crimes like this, it should be known that not all people are racists.
“I think it is helpful to remember that these ‘racists’ are a tiny minority – they are also one price we pay for a free society,” said Pytell.