Kansas City Tragedy
Love vs. Hate
Kansas has been back in the news, but this time it is not famous for its tornados, red shoes or dogs named Toto. Whatever fantasy the Wizard of Oz brought to the big screen does not compare to the recent real life murders of three innocent citizens.
Who Did It?
A man named Cross did it. Hating Jews is not new to him – he’s been doing it for a very long time. The Neo-Nazi had long enjoyed his senior role in the white supremacy movement and had even run for political office. He was invited as a guest speaker in a religion class at a state university, to spout his views on Jews.
That is the question that no one can answer. Why would this man leave his home in rural Missouri, drive to the outskirts of Overland Park, Kansas and try to kill Jews in the parking lot? The Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City is a large sprawling complex that houses many local activities. On the eve of Pesach, the center was hosting auditions for a singing competition that would be held as a community fundraiser. Jews and non-Jews alike were invited to perform, and it was a Methodist grandfather and his grandson targeted by Cross, who most likely assumed everyone in the parking lot would be Jewish. The Jewish retirement home down the road was his next stop, again under the false assumption that anyone visiting would be Jewish. Wrong. The woman he killed was a Catholic who had come to visit her aging mother.
Growing Up in Overland Park
I remember in the early 70’s there was a spate of anti-Semitism in downtown Overland Park, which was more like a small suburb at that time. One particular store, owned by a Jewish family, was targeted with hate messages on its windows. I don’t know if I needed a coat that winter, but I wanted to support the store so bought a coat there.
The Jewish community in Kansas City is an old one. According to Wikipedia, there are some 19,000 Jews living in the greater Kansas City area.
The Jewish community of Kansas City is not huge compared to other cities, but has always been strong. It is strong enough to be diverse and to open its doors to the general public – to invite all local Kansas City residents to take part in its activities.
I am proud of the Jewish Community Campus in Overland Park for its efforts in bringing people together from every religious background and different walks of life. Despite this tragedy, I believe the love it pours out on local residents will overcome the hate of one man.