At around 2 PM Eastern Time the day before Passover started a tragic event occurred at a Kansas City Jewish Community Center. Frazier Glenn Cross, also known as Frazier Miller, shot five people, killing three and wounding two others at the community center and a neighboring senior living facility. William Lewis Corporon and his grandson Reat Underwood, 69 and 14 years of age respectively were both killed at the Jewish Community Center. Terri LaManno, a mother of three, was killed while going to Village Shalom, the neighboring senior facility. This horrify event was something that sent shock waves not only throughout the Jewish community, but also various other communities across the nation. An outcry of support for those affected by the tragedy could be seen; however, some showed little to no empathy for the victims and outrage at Miller’s actions. One such man is Marionville, Missouri Mayor Dan Clevenger.
Dan Clevenger has received a fair amount of criticism from locals and people from around the country for the comments he made on Miller. Clevenger knew Miller as he came to his store numerous times and even went so far as to call Miller a friend. Clevenger was quoted as saying about Miller that, “He respected his elders greatly as long as they were the same color as him.” Furthermore, Clevenger said, “Kind of agreed with him on some things, but I don’t like to express that too much.” These comments made by Clevenger shocked me. The fact that he doesn’t express much anger with Miller’s actions is enough to make me angry; however, Clevenger’s previous writings and current comments about his beliefs enter a whole different level. About ten years ago Clevenger wrote an editorial for the Aurora newspaper in which he wrote, ”The Jew-run medical industry succeeded in destroying the United States’ workforce.” and how the medical industry, “Made a few Jews rich by killin’ us off.” He then switched focus and talked about how he believed that the Jewish people ran the banking industry and put the U.S. into debt. He also said the Federal Reserve just handed out money and in his words, “The people that run the Federal Reserve, they’re Jewish.” However, with his ignorant beliefs Clevenger believes that Miller had no right to do what he did.
Anti-Semitism is something that I hoped was nearly nonexistent, at least in the United States. However, these recent events have proven that it is anything but extinct. People like Miller and Clevenger unfortunately live throughout the United States. Their beliefs still thrive in the present day. Clevenger blaming most of the United States’ issues on the Jewish people is exactly what Hitler did in Nazi Germany. The sort of beliefs that Clevenger holds truly frightens me. I strive to understand all people’s beliefs, but with Clevenger that is amongst the hardest challenges. When events like this happen it only strengthens my desire to hold onto the traditions and cultures of the Jewish people. The continuance of Anti-Semitism and all other forms of discrimination is unfortunate but something that can be stopped. We as Jewish people must continue to not only further support and stop hatred for other Jews but any people discriminated against. With Passover at a close, we must reflect as to the events of Passover and the reason we celebrate it, as the reason still holds very true today.
Editor’s Note: Dan Clevenger has since resigned from his position as Mayor.
*All quotes from Mayor Clevenger can be found in the following links: http://www.cnn.com/2014/04/16/justice/kansas-jewish-centers-shooting/ and http://www.algemeiner.com/2014/04/17/mayor-faces-impeachment-after-speaking-kindly-of-jewish-center-killer/
Written by Grant C., Heller Israel Advocacy Intern for The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee