Don’t Hand the Bigots Another Victory
For more than three decades, white supremacist and former Klansman Frazier Glenn Miller Jr. wore his hatred on his sleeve – sometimes literally.
But now that he has traded his swastikas and Klan regalia for an orange prison jumpsuit, one would have hoped that his record of hateful venom against Jews and other minorities would have been safely sequestered — and silenced — behind bars.
Miller, currently awaiting trial on capital murder charges in the April 13 shooting rampage outside of a Jewish Community Center in Overland Park, Kan., is not one for holding back his virulent anti-Semitic beliefs.
When asked why he carried out the attack — which killed physician William Corporon, 69, and his grandson, Reat Underwood, 14, outside of the Jewish Community Center, and Terri LaManno, 53, an occupational therapist visiting her mother at a nearby senior center — Miller told The Kansas City Star that he was motivated both by his deeply held conviction that Jews must die and a sense of his own imminent mortality.
He had recently been admitted to the emergency room with emphysema and felt his life was coming to an end.
“I was convinced I was dying then,” Miller said in the Star‘s exclusive interview published online Saturday. “I wanted to make damned sure I killed some Jews or attacked the Jews before I died.
“Because of what I did, Jews feel less secure.”
Though Miller intended to kill innocent Jewish civilians, the tragic irony of his horrific crime is that he succeeded in killing no Jews. Miller, 73, fired indiscriminately at anyone who crossed his path. Those senseless deaths terrorized not only the Jewish community, but everyone in the greater suburban Kansas City area — and beyond.
Miller did not wait for trial to confess his crimes, choosing instead to tell his story, laden with anti-Semitic tirades, in the media rather than a judge or jury. The Kansas City paper devoted more than 2,500 words to a jailhouse interview with Miller.
In the interview, Miller proudly described how he carefully planned the shootings, visiting the sites days ahead of time and covering his tracks on the Internet so that law enforcement would be thrown off by his actions. And he rehashed his life story as a career bigot.
Miller relished the effect he thought his violence would have on the Jewish community:
“Every Jew in the world knows my name now and what I did. As for these…white people who are accomplices of the Jews, who attend their meetings and contribute to their fundraising efforts and who empower the Jews, they are my enemy too. A lot of white people who associate with Jews, go to Jewish events and support them know that they’re not safe either, thanks to me.”
These sentiments are indeed shocking, but not surprising to anyone who has followed his sordid career of outspoken bigotry. As early as 1985, Miller told ABC World News Tonight that, “now everywhere I go people are agreeing with me that the Jews do in fact control this country.”
While the public has a right to know what motivated Miller, is there a need to give him an open microphone for those views? Many of these details would have come out during the trial. Why do we, as a society, feel the need to stare so long and so hard at the haters and bigots among us?
Perhaps we should be looking in the mirror.
I, for one, was disappointed with the Star’s decision to give so much attention to Miller and more disappointed that it allowed him to spew his hatred. And I am annoyed and angry at the prison officials who so readily made him available to speak at length in a series of phone interviews to a journalist.
Publicizing Miller’s hate-filled tirades do not serve a community still emotionally battered by his self-serving vitriol. The Jewish community, the Corporon and LaManno families, and the entire Greater Kansas City region can certainly live without more of Miller’s hate speech.
More than a decade ago, Louis Farrakhan, the anti-Semitic and racist leader of the Nation of Islam, was invited to appear as a guest on NBC’s Meet the Press. At the time I remember being surprised that any respectable news program would give someone with such deep animosity toward Jews and others a platform where he could sell himself as a moderate leader.
I appealed to the great Tim Russert, the host at the time, not to give Farrakhan a platform on the network’s prestigious Sunday news program, arguing that his status as a racist and a bigot made him a pariah and a poor subject for an interview. The appearance went ahead, but not without Russert asking pointed questions about Farrakhan’s history of hatred toward Jews.
Years later, after a series of hate-filled anti-Semitic speeches in which he has fulminated against Jewish power and blamed Jews for everything from promoting the African slave trade to controlling Hollywood, Farrakhan has achieved the status of a true outcast. I hope that no legitimate, mainstream news outlet would give him a voice.
The same rule should hold true for the anti-Jewish bigotry of Frazier Glenn Miller Jr.
Abraham H. Foxman is National Director of the Anti-Defamation League. This article was originally published by The Huffington Post.